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Indian Corporate World & Business of Motherhood

  • JWB Post
  •  April 1, 2015

As a part of our upcoming campaign ‘Business Lullabies’ in association with Sheroes, JWB keeps an eye on how the corporate world deals with motherhood.

Today, Indian organisations have evolved to a point where nearly every organisation has a provision for maternity leave and a selective few offer paternity leaves too. However, where leave for motherhood by adoption or surrogacy is concerned, there remains a large question mark. In addition, returning to work after maternity leave is also an arduous process in many organisations.

TOI spoke to several organisations and found that while most of them do include adoption in their maternity leave policy , surrogacy is dealt with more on a case to case basis. Gunjan Vasudeva, senior general manager ­HR, Aptech Ltd affirms, “Under humanitarian grounds, we have made exceptions for cases that do not fall under existing organisational policies.“

However, with medical advancements throwing up several different options to conventional childbirth, it is imperative for organisational policies to keep pace as well.

Even if adoption and surrogacy are a part of the maternity leave policy of an organisation, they are not often considered on par with childbirth. “Upon adoption of a child (under the age of 18 years), women employees are entitled to eight weeks of paid leave or 12 weeks of paid leave upon the adoption of a child (under the age of 23 years, if mentally or physically disabled),“ says Puja Kapoor, HR head ­Dunnhumby India. The British Council provides for maternity leave upto 180 days, which is applicable for adoption and surrogacy as well. Vodafone India has instituted a provision for six hours of work per day for six months post return from maternity for child care, as a part of its new maternity policy. Intuit has set an example by covering adoption costs in addition to providing paid leave. “Intuit provides an adoption leave that’s at par with maternity and paternity leave benefits (84 days for women employees and two weeks for men). In addition, Intuit also provides adoption assistance of upto 50k INR to cover adoption costs,“ says Shikha Verma, total rewards leader, Intuit APAC.

Rajesh Padmanabhan, president and group CHRO, Vedanta says that Vedanta’s maternity benefit policy is not just limited to the provisions mentioned in the document; they enhance the decision-making and deal with each case individually and customise the approach. This is a viable option for organisations that are wary of setting in stone policies regarding less common forms of motherhood. Vedanta however does not include leave during surrogacyadoption in its guidelines.

“Maternity is not confined to the delivery of a child but goes much beyond it. It is associated with the feelings of being a mother and hence whether a woman bears the child in her womb, adopts or has it through surrogacy, it does not in any way, make her less of a mother. The definition of maternity needs to be revisited and respected as such,“ opines Rajeev Bhadauria, director, Group HR, JSPL.

This sentiment needs to find resonance in documented policies as well as the attitudes of HR personnel who deal with requests from new mothers and fathers.

 And if statistics are anything to go by, it makes economical sense for them to do so.

Working Mothers across the Globe

International Labor Organization standards state that women should be granted at least 14 weeks of paid maternity leave. Shockingly enough, the United States of America does not offer paid maternity leave. On the other hand, certain countries in Europe such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia provide for upto three years of paid parental leave! The UK provides 52 weeks of maternity (or adoption) leave, 39 weeks of which are paid. However, international organisations are not subject to the legislation of any country and thus, have to develop their own global policies on maternity leave. Read also “Maternity Leave: Global views”.

Share your stories of coming back to office after maternity leave here.

This article originally appeared in TOI.

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