In July 2017 the House of Representatives voted to introduce paternity leave in Cyprus (the Protection of Paternity Law (117(I)/2017)). Previously, the only type of leave available to working fathers was unpaid parental leave under the Parental and Force Majeure Leave Law (47(I)/2012), which is also available to working mothers.

Under the Protection of Paternity Law, a man whose wife gives birth, has a child through a surrogate mother or adopts a child under the age of 12 can take two consecutive weeks' paid paternity leave during the 16 weeks after the birth or adoption. However, this law applies only to men who are married (through a religious or civil marriage or a civil partnership agreement) to their child's mother before the birth or adoption, and fails to cover unmarried fathers.

On 18 May 2018 the House of Representatives tried to address this oversight by introducing an amending law, under which all fathers would be entitled to paid paternity leave regardless of their marital status (the Protection of Paternity Amending Law 2018). Further, on the same day, the Social Insurance Amending Law 2018 was introduced, amending the Social Insurance Law (59(I)/2010) in order to provide paternity benefits to unmarried working fathers.

However, these changes have yet to come into force because the president, exercising his rights under Article 140 of the Constitution, referred the amending laws to the Supreme Court, claiming that they violate Articles 80(2) and (54) of the Constitution, as they add additional, unbudgeted costs to the government and Social Insurance Fund budgets. Article 80(2) of the Constitution states that no representative can introduce a bill that results in increased budgetary expenditure and Article 54 states that only the government's executive branch has the power to direct general policy.

The Supreme Court will hear the referrals on 3 December 2018 and decide whether the amending laws violate the Constitution.

Prior to the Supreme Court referrals, the president had sent the legislation back to the House of Representatives for reconsideration, but it refused his request and proceeded with issuing the laws.

For further information on this topic please contact Nicos Panayiotou at George Z Georgiou & Associates LLC by telephone (+357 22 763 340) or email (nicos.panayiotou@gzg.com.cy). The George Z Georgiou & Associates LLC website can be accessed at www.gzg.com.cy.

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