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Why Do We Have Only A Week-off For Fathers In India?

  • JWB Post
  •  April 22, 2015

 

Ankita Shreeram writes for TOI discussing the most-talked about issue –

PARENTING IS A JOINT DUTY. AGREE? THEN, WHY DO WE HAVE A MERE WEEK-OFF FOR FATHERS IN INDIA INC?

According to a new law, mums and dads in the UK will be able to share upto 50 weeks of parental leave. But in India, the situation remains the same as many places in the world ­ dads get only a token week-long leave when they become proud new parents, while women are granted around three to six months of paid maternity leave.Does this mean that parenting is only a woman’s duty? Doesn’t it make better sense to do away with maternity and paternity leave and call it `parental leave’like Sweden does?
In Boston, EY allows its male employees to take extended paternity leaves. Sandeep Kohli, national di rector HR, EY agrees,“Shared responsibility is emerging as a trend.Having it as a lawpolicy across India will ensure that organisations mandatorily have it in the system.“

India isn’t alone in its attitude to fathers’contribution in child-rearing.The United States does not have any law that stipulates companies must provide either maternal or paternal leave and as a result, the number of companies voluntarily opting to do so is dismally low. In a world where men want to spend quality time with their babies as much as women, it is indeed strange that there has been no revision in paternity leave policies in the last several years.

Though Indian companies are unveiling renewed policies around maternity leaves, very few are laying emphasis on the paternity leave aspect. Some non-profit organisations in the US have a more relaxed ap proach to paternity leave but whether it will ever become a part of the mainstream corporate conversation is anybody’s guess.

The general consensus is that there are far more pressing issues with regards to gender equality and paternity leave isn’t on anyone’s priority list.As Pradyumna Pandey, chief general manager ­ HR, JK Tyre & Industries Ltd says,“Indian organisations need to still focus on other important issues at the workplace that will facilitate a better working environment for female employees, before paternity leave gets a place in the discussion agenda.“

According to Rahul Kulkarni, HR head, Accelya Solutions Ltd, the company has a policy that allows for male and female employees to take unpaid leave of upto four months to support the studies of their children during the critical time of board exams (10th & 12th).This in fact brings up another issue ­ should organisations support employees’desire to be at home during family emergencies via paid leave or work-from-home policies?
Sudhir Dhar, associate director and head ­ HR and admin, Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd agrees that times have changed and the new world we live in demands a change in organisational policies.“Given the rising demand of work-life balance, where daily commute consumes several hours of an employee’s day, stress levels are high and women’s contribution to the daily expenses of the family is significant. Revising the paternity leave policies or introducing a `parental leave sharing’policy would not only result in reducing the attrition rate among women but also help the Indian corporate to attract and retain talent.“

What about dads who choose to adopt a child without a partner?
Short of quitting their jobs, there is no avenue for them to spend quality time with their children. Hopefully, India will follow the example that Sweden set as early as 1974.

IS THE LAW ON DADS’ SIDE?

There is absolutely no legal support for the concept of paternity leave on par with maternity leave.“Presently, there is no law mandating paternity leave for male employees in the private sector like the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 for all female employees. In terestingly, the All India Services Act, 1951, which regulates the service conditions of persons appointed to the civil services grants 15 days of paternity leave to its male employees. However, this applies only to the persons serving in the Indian Administrative Service, Indi an Police Service, or other services cadre as may be included,“says Pooja Thacker, associate, Advaya Legal. However, there may be hope for India as Thacker cites a recent case, “There have been reports of the Delhi High Court upholding paternity leave of 15 days to a male em ployee of a private school in New Delhi when the male employee challenged his salary deduction for the period when he was on (paternity) leave.Thus, India, although on a small scale, has acknowledged the need for paternity leave for male employees.“

READ RELATED ARTICLES:

Duration of Maternity Leaves in Indian & other countries.

British parents can now share 50 weeks of paternal leaves.

Indian Corporate World & Motherhood.

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