In March 2017, a big step was taken when the Maternity Bill was passed, which extended the time period of maternity leave for women from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.
The decision made an old question rear its head again, of whether paternity leave should also be recognised by the Indian government. Lately, various private companies have introduced the concept of paternity leave for their employees.
MNCs such as Microsoft led the way in India by providing paternity leave for men, hence acknowledging the father’s role post childbirth. Compared to this, a lot of European countries have a number of benefits attached to the father’s role after child birth.
It was reported that Salesforce, an American based company introduced a paternity leave of three months for the ones considered as secondary caregivers. Now compare this to the situation in India. The average paternity leave sans a mandate by law is for 10 days after childbirth.
Paternity leave policies need to overcome this mental block which is prevalent regarding the role of a father after child birth. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is a known workaholic, but the fact that he took a two-month paternity leave definitely paves the way for more generous parental policies in companies, although when that effect trickles into India one shall have to see.
The International Labour Organisation in a 2014 report observed that India wasn’t part of the countries which legally recognised paternity leave. The document stated, “Compulsory paternity leave helps to ensure that fathers share childcare responsibility with mothers and allows for greater involvement of men in the critical early stages of an infant’s development.”
The bottom-line is, by providing more leave and benefits to the mother is the law propagating the fact that it is only the mother who should be taking care of the child?
Hopefully there will be a time soon enough when we recognise that the father needs to be given an equal responsibility and opportunity to be able to take care of the children.
First Published: Nov 19, 2018 09:25 IST