Paternity Leave in India - Paternity Leave Policy

The article aims to discuss the Paternity leave in India. Policies, legislation and rules of paternity leave are relevant for candidates preparing for various competitive exams. 

What is Paternity Leave?

The paternity leave is about giving fathers the right to take paid time off work following the birth (or adoption) of a child. It is mentioned period of time, where a father working as an employee under the sector is granted leave from work to take care of the newborn child. 

Aspirants of different Government exams should read the article carefully as the topic is important for the general awareness section of these exams.

Candidates preparing for IAS exam will also gain from this article for their preparation. They might encounter the question on Paternity Leave in the form of as Essay or under the Mains General Studies paper of the exam.

Candidates preparing for various competitive exams can go through the following links for their preparation-

Paternity Leave in India – Overview

  • In 1961, the Government of India made provisions for working pregnant women known as the Maternity Benefits Act. Women under this Act are entitled to various benefits, facilities, and incentives.

Government scheme promoting benefits for pregnant women-

  • But no provision has been laid down in legislation for paternity benefits. But the necessity of laying down of provision for paternity leave to maintain a healthy family was seen.
  • Thus in 1999, the Central Government of India made provision of paternity leave for Central Government employee under Central Civil Services (Leave) Rule 551 (A). 
  • It provides 15 days of leave as paternity leave. It is to be provided to employees who have less than two surviving children. This leave can be availed for 15 days either before or within 6 months from the date of delivery of the child.
  • In September 2017, pursuant to the enactment of Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, the Paternity Benefit Bill, 2018 (“PB Bill”) was proposed in the Lok Sabha by Maharashtra MP, Rajeev Satav.
  1. 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. 
  2. This law applies to all women working in establishments with 10 or more workers. It also provides for adoptive mothers, who are entitled to 12 weeks of leave. For women having undergone a tubectomy operation meant to stop future pregnancies, the Act provides for a 2 week paid leave.

Read about The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill – 2016 on the link provided.

  • The PB Bill mandated that paternity leave of fifteen days (extendable up to three months) be granted to new fathers. The idea behind the PB Bill is to recognize that the role of a father as a contributor to child-rearing is of paramount importance, and to give new fathers the opportunity to bond with their children without compromising on their need to provide for their family. 
  • In India, all the proceeding regarding the sanctions of paternity leave is to be held before the Metropolitan Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class. They have jurisdiction to try any offence under this Act. But courts lower to them do not have jurisdiction to proceed with the trial.

Paternity Leave Rule

  1. According to Paternity Benefit Bill in 2017, all the workers working in both unorganized as well as the private sector, have the right to avail paternity leave of fifteen days. And this period can be extended until a period of three months.
  2. Moreover, every male employee, who has worked for a minimum of 80 days in an establishment, becomes entitled to receive paternity benefits. Paternity benefits are calculated at the average daily wage paid to the employee for the number of days actually worked by him.
  3. This bill cited the equal parental benefit to be provided to both mothers as well as father.
  4. According to the 7th Central Pay Commission provision of leave to be granted to a government employee, during the adoption of a child below the age of 1 year. 

Why is Paternity Leave is Important?

  1. Reducing Gender Gap in Labour Laws – There is no proper paternity leave rule or benefits in the legislation. The only provision that exists in India gives 15 days leave for the father, as opposed to a maximum of 26 weeks or 182 days for the mother. The number of days given to the mother can be partly justified by the physical healing the body needs after childbirth. However, the vast gap that exists between these two policies exposes the possible mindset that went into making them. In this manner, legal policies are reinforcing societal biases.
  2. Patriarchal Society – Indian society continues to see men as the ‘breadwinner’ and women as the ‘homemaker’. Hence, the culture of toxic masculinity that prevails in Indian society results in hesitancy and some amount of ridicule in doing what Indian men think is ‘women’s work’.
  3. Dual Burden on Women: Making maternity leaves as the only parental leave option in a company doesn’t really bridge the gap between the domestic and the public; instead, it restricts the two even more strongly. The indirect implications are that women are supposed to not only juggle both work and home life but also return to home life for fulfilling the ‘nurturing’ role.

The survey report released by the NSSO shows that Indian women spend nearly four hours more on unpaid work than men, with grim consequences for women’s participation in the workforce. Dive deep into the information on the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) on the given link.

Aspirants preparing for any government exams can visit the link provided to prepare even better for the examination-

  1. Free Online Quiz for Government Exams
  2. Government Exams Free Mock Test Series
  3. Government Exam Previous Year Question Papers with Solution PDFs

Paternity Leave Policy Associated Benefits

  1. Debunk the Patriarchy – A proper rule or law for Paternity leaves will be the first steps towards achieving a more egalitarian view in society and debunking patriarchy. Paternity leave can promote parent-child bonding, improve outcomes for children, and even increase gender equity at home and at the workplace.
  2. A declining rate of Women Workforce participation: A general age when women have children is between 25 years to 35 years which is actually a critical age when people tend to begin making serious progress in their careers. Women often miss out on these critical years of work once being pressured into staying home with their children all due to societal sexism. Therefore, if paternity leaves are normalised, and men actively start taking up the responsibility of child care, it would help in reducing the women labour force participation rate. Go through the article on Women Empowerment on the link provided here.
  3. The paternity benefit bill will bring great comfort to male employees across all sectors, the organised sector, the unorganized sector as well as the self-employed, reducing the percentile of unemployment.

The Scenario of Paternity Leave in India

All the provisions related to paternity leave in India are only made for Government servants. There is no provision for employees under private sector in this Act. However, India has seen a change in trend in terms of paternity leave. 

  1. The Ministry of women and child development had pitched for the idea of legislating for paternity leave in the organised sector.
  2. Since the private sectors are free to incorporate their policy of paternity leave and there have been no rules under this Act which would enforce them to work accordingly. Several private companies, too, offer paternity leave, without the prodding of legislation.
    • Example: Zomato ruled out 26 weeks of paternal leave to its employees. It provides an endowment of Rs. 69,000 to both male and female employees on becoming new parents.
    • Similarly, Tata Consultancy Services -TCS gives 15 days leave as paternal leave to its employees, Wipro 8 weeks where Infosys provides only 5 days leaves.

Paternity Leave – International Scenario

  1. UNICEF used to have four weeks of paid paternity leaves to the male employees but has since extended it to sixteen weeks worldwide. 
  2. 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 table highlights the leave policy of a few countries –
Countries  Paternity leave policy
Sweden 90 days of paternity leave, 80% pay of normal salary
Norway  Depending on the earnings of the wife, a husband can take 0 to 10 weeks of paternity leave, Both the parents are paid 80% of their pay
Finland  Fully paid paternity of 8 weeks, Both the parents can split 23 weeks according to their convenience
Canada  3 weeks with 75% of salary paid; or 5 weeks with 70% of salary pay
Iceland  Both the parents get 3 weeks of leave for each but in total, they have nine months, so it depends on them how to split the remaining months, 80% of their salary pay

International Companies and their Paternal Leave Policies

Some of the biggest companies took their own steps towards paternity leave through HR policies such as Microsoft offers 12 weeks, Facebook is in the lead with 17 weeks, Starbucks allows 12 weeks, Oracle only 5 days, Accenture 22 weeks, while Deloitte gives their employees 16 weeks of paternity leave.

Few more examples-

Companies The policy of paternal leave
Coca-cola 6 weeks of paid leave, applicable in adoption as well as foster care even
Netflix  One year of paid parental leave
Johnson & Johnson Eight weeks of paid leave, an additional one week for oneself
Facebook  Four months of paid leave, increments during the first year of child’s birth
McKinsey & Co. Eight weeks of paid leave

Conclusion

  1. Rules for Paternity leave in India and the enactment of the PB Bill will be one of the better welfare legislation of recent times. It will align India with global employment regulations and best practices.
  2. Also, the idea of official paternity leave in India if endorsed by governments and private companies will be a minimum first step enabling society to acknowledge that parenting and childcare is the shared responsibility of both men and women.

Other Related Links:

Aspirants preparing for the UPSC exam can check the links given below –

  1. UPSC 2021
  2. UPSC Calendar 2021
  3. UPSC Syllabus
  4. Analysis of the Press Information Bureau
  5. Social Justice Questions for UPSC MAINS GS 2 

You can also check out the preparation strategies for competitive exams to fine-tune your exam prep.

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