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Paternity Leave

  • IASbaba
  • November 24, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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SOCEITY/ GOVERNANCE/ ECONOMY

Topic: General Studies 1, 2:

  • Social empowerment
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation 

Paternity Leave

Context: Indian Cricket Team Captain Virat Kohli asked for, and was granted, paternity leave in the middle of a competitive Test series against Australia.

Unlike maternity leave, there is no law governing leave for fathers in India.

Do You Know?

  • The time-use survey report released last month by the National Sample Survey Office shows that Indian women spend nearly four hours more on unpaid work than men, with grim consequences for women’s participation in the workforce.
  • India remains among the 90 out of the 187 countries in the world that do not have national policies to ensure that new fathers get adequate paid time off with their babies. 
  • The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 allows for pregnant women to take leave for a total of 26 weeks out of which up to 8 weeks can be claimed before delivery.
  • The woman is also supposed to get paid a benefit at the rate of her daily wage for three months before she goes on maternity leave.

What are the merits of providing Paternity Leave?

  • To Promote Gender Equality: Until men have equal opportunities to be caregivers, there will be an inevitable pressure on women to bear the bulk of responsibilities around the household. 
  • To defeat Patriarchy: There’s a culture that perceives nurturing and parental duties as womanly. This toxic belief promotes the idea of women having to carry the sole responsibility of up-bringing, while the men go out and chase their professional goals.
  • Parenting Skills: Just like maternity leave, paternity leave allows new-dads to take time off work and spend time with and around the new baby and mother. As a result, father’s attach to their babies in ways similar to mothers. This helps fathers to develop the parenting skills and sense of responsibility that then allows them to be active co-parents rather than helpers to their female partners.
  • Changed family Set Up: In today’s world with nuclear families working couples don’t have the luxury of large joint family setups. Therefore, the husband/father needs to get time off from work to take care of his wife and newborn child. 
  • Work-life balance and good for Women’s Careers: Paid Paternity leave helps find a balance between work and life for moms and dads, and in turn, help moms advance in their careers and achieve their own successes
  • Helps Control Population: A study in Spain, which now gives 12 weeks of paternity leave, had found that it has lowered the fertility rate.
  • International Trend: In Britain, Sweden and Norway, parents are granted about a year of paid parental leave to tend to their newborns during that particularly crucial and difficult period.
  • The post-COVID reality makes it even more urgent for workplaces to incentivise men to take more responsibility at home, if more women are not to drop off the work grid.

Do Public Sector employees in India get Paternity Leave?

  • Public sector employees get 15-day paternity leave.
  • The government made provisions for paternity leave for all public sector employees in 1999 through the Central Civil Services (Leave) Rule 551 (A). 
  • This allows any male central government employee (including trainees and probationers) with less than two children to avail a 15-day paternity leave either 15 days before or within six months from the date of delivery of child.
  • This also extends to cases where a child has been adopted.
  • Many companies have adopted the same model.

How is Private Sector dealing with Paternity Leave?

  • Paternity leave is a rather new concept in the Indian corporate setup and most companies have started offering it in the last few years 
  • The private sector in India is free not to offer paternity leave, but many large organizations are formulating their own policies. 
  • Equality as well as higher productivity resulting from the security and contentment of a better work-life balance may be their aim.
  • Tech giants Facebook, Deloitte and Microsoft offer their employees 17, 16 and 12 weeks of paternity leave respectively.
  • There is no set time duration for paternity leave in corporate India. Most companies offer paternity leave between 5-15 days.

Was there any effort made to pass law regarding Paternity Leave?

  • A Paternity Benefit Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by MP Rajeev Satav in 2017. 
  • The bill, which emphasises upon equal parental benefits for both parents, proposes that all workers, including those in the unorganised and private sector, can avail paternity leave of 15 days, extendable up to three months. 
  • However, the bill has not yet been passed by the Parliament.

Judiciary on Paternity Leave

  • A 2009 judgment in the matter of Chander Mohan Jain v. N.K Bagrodia Public School, where a private school teacher approached the Delhi High Court to challenge the rejection of his paternity leave application and deductions from his salary for availing paternity leaves. 
  • The Delhi High Court held that “all male employees of unaided recognized private schools were entitled to paternity leave”. 
  • The court directed the school to refund the money that was deducted from the teacher’s salary. 
  • While this judgment may not have pioneered the need to have a paternity benefit act in place, it does go to show that there has been some traction in India to give men the opportunity to bond with their new born.

What are the Challenges associated with Paternity leave? 

  • Even though several companies have progressive policies, the people executing them are still rigid.
  • Employees are forced to take work from home and not a long leave.
  • In our social set-up, where men are still considered the “breadwinner”, men may not be comfortable availing paternity leave.
  • For many men, the worry that a six-month break may become a career setback, is quite real.
  • The absence of a law to support it, unlike the maternity leave, contributes to the paternity leave needs not being taken seriously.
  • The idea of legislating for paternity leave in the organised sector are viewed with suspicion as there are fears that Indian men would turn it into a paid holiday.

Conclusion

Paternity Leave is an important development in the context of gender discrimination at the workplace, but it will also have broader implications on the patriarchal mindset of Indian society.

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