As of 2014, the Lebanese law in regard to paid Maternity Leave entitles women in the workforce to ten weeks instead of the previous seven weeks. While that small extension was welcomed, it is still falling short of the minimum requirement of six months for the infant to be developed enough so the mother could resume her job schedule. Considering that Lebanese fathers of infants do not benefit from Paternity Leave in the private sector, they can't be available to lend the much-needed support to their wives during that critical period. So where does it leave us?
The new generation of Lebanese fathers has recognized the importance of their participating role during that period, both for their infant and the mother. They do want to be fully available for them as it is the case in most countries. However, there hasn't been any serious consideration from the lawmakers and the corporations in that regard.
Lebanon, in fact, has started granting only a three-day paternity leave, which is really of no significance, and which is still not forced on, nor implemented by, the private sector.
Henceforth, when a company in Lebanon takes it upon itself to do right by the new fathers and their families, it becomes big news. Diageo is a Lebanon based business that distributes alcohol globally. They produce over 200 brands of alcoholic beverages, including Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, JεB, Smirnoff, Baileys, Captain Morgan, and more.
Starting early July, Diageo has implemented a significant Paternity Leave for new fathers, which quite frankly is a foreign concept in Lebanon.
This policy has been enforced in all their companies around the world, and for all the new fathers regardless of how long they have been working for the company. They also offer the mothers a fully paid 26-week paid leave, which is 15 weeks more than the applied law in Lebanon.
George Rbeiz, who runs the company in his position of General Manager of Diageo Middle East and North Africa, said that their newly enforced Paternity Leave validates the company's acknowledgment of the actual importance of a father figure role in the lives of newborns, and that the first 6 months are important in the upbringing of an infant.
Diageo is reputed for its diversity and equality principles. Its executive committee is formed of 40% men, and 44% of their board members are women. It's refreshing seeing large and global institutions being so diverse, incorporating equality in their team, and acknowledging with their policies the rights of new parents for paid leave.
Kudos to them, and fingers crossed for all companies in Lebanon to follow suit in all consciousness, implementing Paternity Leave and longer Maternity Leave like Diageo!