Alcohol giant takes sober leap for parenthood

An alcoholic beverage company has changed its paternity and maternity leave policy
An alcoholic beverage company has changed its paternity and maternity leave policy

An alcoholic beverages company has announced a new paternity and maternity policy regime that has been hailed as progressive just in time for Women's Day.

Global spirits giant Diageo which owns popular alcoholic brands such as Tanqueray, Ciroc and Johnnie Walker said it will be providing 26 weeks of maternity and four weeks of paternity leave for all its employees on full pay.

This will also be applicable for couples in same sex relationships and parents who have adopted their children.

Currently, men are able to claim between three to 10 days of paternity leave. Gay men and adoptive parents were also recently granted 10 days leave through the Labour Laws Amendment Bill.

Nomxolisi Sikhondze, 33, is one of the first mothers to benefit from Diageo's 26 weeks maternity leave policy.

"As a first-time mom, I really wanted to take 6 months off to get the hang of it. So I was busy navigating my annual leave to see how far it could take me after exhausting paid maternity leave. I guess the universe conspired in my favour," she said.

Sikhondze, who is employed as legal counsel, said she will be able to bond with her child and set a solid foundation before hiring someone she can trust to look after her child.

Kabelo Chabalala, the founder of the Young Men Movement, said the increase in paternity leave will allow fathers to bond with their children in the early days of their arrival.

"We undermine how tired mothers get and the pressure they are put under. It will allow for men to be present and this will surely make a difference, maybe it will make men more active in their children's lives," he said.

Siya Khumalo, the author of You have to be gay to know God, said the inclusion of the LGBTI should have been normalised a long time ago.

"It depends on how you look at it. I'm not speaking for the whole LGBTI community, and I don't have much detail on the announcement; I am learning about the situation as it develops. From a workplace equality perspective, it's only fair when the benefits availed to cis-heterosexual employees are extended to the LGBTI community," said Khumalo.

"Unequal rights sends out a toxic message - that heteronormativity is the norm, and some employees are more equal than others. This move shouldn't even be a new thing to be announced; it should have been a given all along."

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