Petition calls for reduced working hours for parents with babies in Portugal

GMT 00:08 2016 Wednesday ,11 May

Arab Today, arab today Petition calls for reduced working hours for parents with babies in Portugal

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Lisbon - XINHUA

A petition by Portugal's Medical Association calling for working hours to be reduced for parents with children under the age of three garnered over 15,000 signatures on Tuesday.

The petition calls for parents to have work hours reduced by two hours each day for one of the parents until the child is age three, regardless of whether the baby is being breastfed or not.

A petition needs 4,000 signatures for the proposal to be debated at parliament.

Reduction of working hours by two hours is already guaranteed in Portugal's work code, but only for the purpose of breast feeding and until the child is one year of age.

The certification needed to prove the mother is still breastfeeding has gained much controversy. The Medical Association points out that this petition is aimed at protecting babies' emotional development.

The Medical Association's petition comes shortly after another petition which called to extend the payment for maternity leave to 100 percent during the first six months instead of the current four.

This petition was discussed in parliament but was not accepted by the ruling Socialist party, while the two parties which back Antonio Costa's minority government -- the Left Bloc and Portuguese Communist Party -- supported the proposal.

According to a report by the United Nations released on Monday, almost two out of three infants globally, are not exclusively breastfed for the recommended six months.

Sweden is one of EU's most successful countries in balancing work and family life, according to the European Platform for Investing in Children, with family policy supporting the dual-earner model and ensuring equal rights for both parents through generous family benefits, flexible leave and working hours.

State provision to parents is limited in Portugal. Hence there is greater reliance on grandparents. This situation is not popular among Portuguese women who would like more formal childcare, according to the platform.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the number of fathers taking parental leave in Portugal increased from around 10 percent in 2009 to almost 23 percent in 2011.

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