Paternity Leave in India
If you see biologically, a mother faces a lot of struggle and pain to give birth to a child. It is an accepted societal norm that a child needs a mother for his/her nourishment, health and well-being before and after birth. Little do we realize that a child equally needs a father. It is, therefore, necessary that along with a mother-child bond, the relationship of a father and child should be well fostered. Paternity leave allows expecting fathers to spend time with the mother and be present with them during and after the birth of the child, take good care of both of them and get to closely nurture& strengthen the lovely bond with their newly born. But how close to substantiality is this being considered in India? Why it is still a discretionary provision in our country? And why do a mother only has to live under the burden of raising a child? In this article, we shall discuss the pros and cons of Paternity leave and how it can turn out to be fruitful to a child who has just begun his journey in this world?
Current provisions relating to Paternity Leave in India
As of now, the concept of paternity has only been mandated by the central government. An expecting father may avail 15 days of leave during or after the delivery of a child. This allows enough time to the father to finish off the responsibilities as to hospital processes, setting up a comfortable environment for the wife, without any tensions relating to office and work. The period of 15 days will be lapsed, if not availed in due time, neither will it be encashed. The quantum of 15 days of leave is also applicable in case of adoption and surrogacy up to two children, which reinforces the faith n goodness by the government.
While in the private sector the concept of paternity leave remains discretionary. There are companies providing for paternity leave and there are those who don’t. However, most organizations these days have come with family-friendly policies and encourage their employees during tough times but the essentiality of provisions is still optional.
Should paternity leave be made mandatory nationwide?
Paternity leave is considered As mentioned earlier in this piece of information, that women are considered natural caretakers, which eventually subsides the responsibilities of a father as a guardian. The notion needs to change from tip to toe. Also, women’s workforce has been always less of a number as compared to men. In a survey done in 2016, the participation of women workforce has declined straight by 10%. Women only make for 24% of the paid labor force in India.
In any case, a woman has to take maternity leave by the third trimester until the child ages at least 6 months. In such a scenario, not providing for paternity leave can eventually lead to a negative aspect of not considering women as equal. A lot of companies even consider not hiring women because of their redundant leaves during pregnancy and after birth. The legitimate right for a skilled woman to apply for an equal position in an organization is thus hindered as compared to men. Also, the enactment of Maternity leave rules giving 26 weeks of leave has further agitated the idea that a woman is only liable to raise the child.
RecentlyDeustche bank in India announced a 6 month leave to fathers as paternity leave. They even said that Parental leave shouldn’t be gender-biased. Steps like these are path-breaking and instigate a positive vibe of Sharing and distribution of parental responsibilities. The nomenclature to serve the purpose was also altered from maternity/paternity leave as PARENTAL LEAVE POLICY. On the same lines, IKEA has also decided to propose 26 weeks of parental leave.
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016 may be considered an important victory for women in India. But a paternity leave enactment is what India needs to aptly enforce the rights and duties of both the parents.
Why paternity leave is important?
The below insertions have been taken from Dad-to-be’s in India. This is not only important to get into legal provisions of the paternity leave and enforcing them but also to face the bent of minds of people in our society.
I would go home once a month, and spend two or three days with him,” says Azim, ruefully. “It was only in photographs that I was seeing him grow.” Azim was able to see his new-born only after 6 months when he finally decided to move to Patna leaving his Job.
“I said I should be entitled to paternity leave, and the lady who headed the organization I was at said ‘Alright! Give him his paternity leave!’ I took a couple of weeks off, but I took it against my annual leave.” Said Joseph working in Chennai. This shows the level of indifference to the Indian Business houses and their lack of empathy for the new fathers.
Globally a new father is allowed to have 4 months of paternity leave either in one go or in parts. Ritesh working with Facebook India says, ‘’Outside of Tech it’s mostly unheard of, i.e. the paternity leave. My friends get surprised and say,’ why would you get leave? We had to take time off”; “When I take my son out for a walk every evening, I am usually the only dada doing that. I met a lady who said he wants to do that but he doesn’t come out because he doesn’t see other dads doing it.”
While it is the lack of initiative at a primary level by fathers, it is also the conventional thought process and legal acknowledgment of the need of a child that a father is accountable for. The same ignorance has led to a lethargic attitude amongst the working population, who no longer see any benefit of paternity leave and even goes on to say that Paternity Benefit Bill will only be a Holiday for men.
Playing a perfunctory role as a father in India will always be debated. For it is for men to realize as to how important to them, their kids are? In absence of any legal enactment by the government for paternity bills and benefits, the thought remains un-entertained. Why is India is lagging behind even after such economies of scale at the GDP level? It is because of this regressive rationale that despite having such resourcefulness, our nation is far behind in terms of personal development and synergy.
A conceiving mother is considered as less capable and men have only activated their dominance as a mark of their strength. India, on a serious note, requires reforms that get deep into the roots of such a rotten thought process. With the government serving the nation and bringing about mandatory policies for Paternity leave, the scenario can be changed. A fair part of the country’s business houses has taken a step ahead in this direction. However, unless the nationwide entities are legally bound to introduce Paternity leave execution to be benefitted from, nothing fruitful can be done.
Painting a pacific picture where men and women amiably and equally share parenting responsibilities is the need of the hour and we must implement it. For better parenting. For better India.