The Government of Bermuda passed the Employment (Maternity Leave Extension and Paternity Leave) Amendment Act 2019 (the Act) which:
- Introduces a five-day employer-paid statutory paternity leave.
- Expands statutory maternity leave from 12 weeks (eight weeks paid and four weeks unpaid leave) to 13 weeks with full pay from the employer.
- Provides more flexibility in the use of vacation leave.
The new Act entered into force on 1 January 2020.
The Act amends Employment Act 2000 as follows:
Employees with a minimum of one year of continuous service by the expected delivery date are now allowed a maternity leave of 13 weeks with full pay from the employer. Previously, female employees were entitled to a statutory maternity leave of 12 weeks, divided into eight weeks of paid leave and four weeks of unpaid leave.
Employees with less than one year of continuous service by the expected delivery date are also now entitled to 13 weeks of maternity leave. In this case, maternity leave is unpaid. Previously, they were only entitled to eight weeks of unpaid leave.
The new change does not apply to any maternity leave that started prior to 1 January 2020.
Previously, there were no provisions on paternity leave in Bermuda. Fathers with a minimum of one year of continuous service by the expected delivery date are now allowed a five-day paternity leave with full pay from the employer. The new five-day leave is unpaid for employees with less than one year of continuous service by the expected delivery date.
Application for the leave should be submitted to the employer at least four weeks prior to the expected delivery date with a doctor’s certificate proving the pregnancy. Paternity leave may only be taken once during a 12-month period and within a 14-week period from the birth of the child.
Employees are entitled to two weeks of paid annual leave. Previously, employees were only allowed to take their leave entitlement after completing a full year of employment. One week’s vacation leave may now be taken after the first six months of continuous employment have been completed.
Employers should ensure their leave policies are updated to inform employees of their statutory rights even if they offer better maternity and paternity benefits than the new minimum statutory requirements. In addition, employers should budget accordingly, given the increased leave periods.