When Parag Agrawal, former CEO of Twitter, declared last year his decision to take a break to celebrate the arrival of his second child, it once again highlighted the topic of paternity leave in India.
Now Picture this: a time when dads take time off for a new baby is not just okay but celebrated. That’s the shift we’re seeing in India lately. Taking care of a newborn in the first few months is tough and when a new father opts paternity leave it becomes a sacred space where a father and his newborn forge an unbreakable bond. In those precious days, amidst diaper changes and soothing lullabies, a foundation of love and understanding is laid.
It’s important for dads to step in and share the responsibilities of taking care of the newborn. That’s where paternity leave can make a big difference.
After having a baby, around one in seven women can develop postpartum depression (also called PPD) and in India, about 22% of mothers suffer from it. It’s a medical condition which includes strong feelings of sadness, anxiety and tiredness that last for a long time after giving birth. These feelings can make it difficult for women to take care of themselves and their baby. So in the pursuit of reducing burnout for mothers, what if fathers actively embrace caregiving responsibilities at home.
Paternity Leave in India
In India, central government employees are entitled to a 15-day paternity leave. The regulation stipulated that this paternity leave could be utilized either 15 days before or within 6 months from the baby’s birth. Failure to avail it within the specified period would result in the leave lapsing. The rule clarified that fathers taking paternity leave would receive a payment equivalent to their last salary before going on leave. The same provision applied in cases where a couple or an individual man adopted a child and the father sought paternity leave, whereas there is no set policy for those in the private sector. However, several companies have taken proactive steps to establish their own inclusive paternity leave policies.
This paternity leave is structured to empower fathers in actively supporting their wives and newborns, recognizing the positive impact of their involvement in nurturing a healthy and thriving family dynamic.
While government employees in India are entitled to sanctioned paternity leave and corresponding pay, the private sector lacks such mandated regulations. In organizations, companies, and various work environments in the private sector, paternity leave policies are subject to the interpretation of individual employers in the absence of binding laws.
However, this does not mean there’s no hope for new fathers in the private sector looking to take paternity leave. In 2009, the New Delhi High Court delivered a judgment that set an instance for paternity leave in private schools. This landmark decision supported Mr. Chandramohan Jain, a private school teacher, in reclaiming his deducted salary. Despite the absence of binding legislation for private organizations, the court recognized his leave as paternity leave.
What Private Companies are doing –
Setting a commendable example, companies like Flipkart, Meesho, Razorpay and Okcredit are leading the way in offering paternity leave to new fathers. In some instances, the duration of offered time off reaches an impressive 30 weeks. The promising news is that this positive trend is gaining momentum across various industries.
Breaking away from traditional norms, certain private companies are now introducing paternity leave for fathers, adoptive parents, and LGBT couples. Tech industry leaders are setting the bar high by offering extensive paternity leave as part of their talent management strategy. A shining example is Diageo, a British multinational major player in the beverage industry, which grants an impressive 26-week parental leave to all eligible employees, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
When a company demonstrates kindness towards its employees, it not only fosters a positive brand image in the corporate world but also establishes itself as an employee-centric organization. For instance, offering equal parental leave to both male and female employees not only identifies the company as employee-friendly but also acts as a magnet for a diverse pool of candidates eager to join its workforce.
Promoting the culture of taking Paternity Leave
How can organizations encourage their employees to take paternity leave?
One approach is by setting an example. When top and mid-level managers personally experience the benefits of paternity leave and openly discuss how it positively impacted them, it diminishes the initial hesitations and concerns about being perceived as slacking off. Additionally, organizations can foster a supportive environment by publicly appreciating those who take paternity leave through announcements or emails to all employees. This shows that the company values and supports dads taking time for their families
To sum it up, in India, paternity leave is not talked about much. Unlike women who get government support through mandatory maternity leave, men do not have the same backing. This leaves them dealing with various issues and having to make tough decisions. It’s essential to bring more attention to paternity leave, discussing it openly and highlighting its importance. By doing so, we can work towards changing how paternity leave is currently viewed and addressed.
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