Feb 282016
 

Time for some reform in the Paternity Leave Policy while considering its importance 

With the Indian government all set to increase the maternity leave for women working in the private sector from the usual 3 months (12 weeks) to six and a half months (26 weeks), a strong case has now come up suggesting recommendations in the paternity leave policy.

Though the government initiative to extend the maternity leave is aimed at providing each child with exclusive six months of breastfeeding as is the norm for the baby’s proper growth.

Paternity Leave Policy

However, there has been complete silence so far with regard to the paternity leave, especially in the private sector. The emphasis only in respect with the mother and maternity leave while side-lining the issue of parenthood indicates that the proposed change ignores the gender distribution in case of unpaid work in India.

Implementation of paternity leave policy

The paternity rule policy came into force in 1997 for males working in government service and public sector companies, allowing 15 days of paid leave for men with fewer than two surviving children. These leaves can be combined with other leaves though. Later in 2009 this provision was extended to adoptive fathers too. However, there are demands seeking to extend the period of paternity leave to 30 days, which has not been amended yet.

On the other hand, in case of the private sector, a legal policy for paternity leave is overdue for long in India. Most private companies offer the to-be-fathers with a minimum of 5 days leave depending on the organization and their policies.

Despite several reviews of law by the Labour as well as Women and Child Development Ministries persuading to introduce the concept of equal paternity leave or extending the number of days in India like in many other countries in the west, nothing much has happened so far.

The fact is, equality in paternity leaves could act as an important aspect which could change the relationships and opinions about the roles in parenting. However, because of absence of a legal framework in case of paternity leave, especially in private sector, the decision is left with individual organizations.

Why is Paternity Leave Important?

With Paternity Leaves, the expecting father can get an opportunity to create a strong bond with the baby from the time of its birth. And this can be possible only when the father is not burdened with stress related workload, deadlines and targets.

Also, this way the husband can support his wife during labour as well as post labour when his wife’s healing after childbirth. This especially benefits those living in nuclear families.

Parenting responsibility share

Parenting is a shared responsibility of both the mother and the father and when the father remains present during childbirth and while rearing the baby, it makes him thoughtful towards the particular needs of the child. This way it brings upon more caring and dedicated fathers. In addition, it also makes the bond between husband and wife stronger, while enhancing the same with the child.

Paternity leave in the West 

In many European countries fathers are offered 13 to 45 weeks of paternity leave with fully paid or in some cases 55 to 80% payment facility. Sweden is the first country to initiate the concept of paternity leave in 1974.

With the practice of equally shared parenting gaining fast response in the West, India has the chance to make way for attitudinal change by enforcing certain changes on the legislature concerning paternity leave policies. This will not only allow fathers to engage equally in childcare, but also enable working women to balance their roles, both productive and reproductive.

Paternity leave table

Country Paternity leave
Sweden 8 weeks
Italy 13 weeks
Norway 45 weeks
Canada 35 week
India  2 weeks (Govt. & public sector)

There are numerous American, African and Asian countries who don’t follow the paternity policies, while some of them offer minimum one week to maximum 2 weeks of paid paternity leave, there are many who are yet to introduce such a policy.

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