Gone are the days when it was a conventional norm for new fathers to take time off work to look after their newborn babies. India is a country where our family is our first and foremost priority, therefore, child care must be considered the joint responsibility of both parents. They each must devote time to the newborn baby to ensure its proper well-being. To encourage this, after the maternity leave policy now paternity leave is also gaining traction in India. The mere existence of a paternity policy is proof that companies have realized the importance of leveling the playing field.
In India, government employees are entitled to get 15 days of paternity leave. However, there is no formal policy dedicated to employees in the private sector. But few private sector companies have set out progressive policies of their own. Top Indian companies like Flipkart, Razorpay, and Okcredit are giving up to 30 weeks of paid leave to new fathers. The e-commerce platform Meesho has a 30-week gender-neutral parental leave policy.
In a highly competitive job market economy, where private sector companies are striving for the same pool of talent, they have no choice but to introduce such people-friendly policies. The shift is happening across sectors and industries, though the pace is a little slower. Providing paid paternity leaves reaffirms that these private sector companies are promoting a male ally culture. It ensures that their male employees have the option to be with their family during important life events like the birth of a child.
What is Paternity leave?
The term paternity leave can be defined as a time that a father is legally allowed to be away from his job (take paid time off from work) to look after his wife and newborn child. It is one of the basic family-friendly benefits that must develop in the workplace regardless of sector differentiation.
The objective of the Paternity Benefit Bill, 2017:
- The primary objective of paternity leave is to promote gender equality and bash the norms of patriarchal thinking in a society.
- Paternity leave minimizes the dual burden on women. It is not only a mother’s responsibility to take care of her newborn child but a father’s as well.
- The bill aims to provide benefits to a biological parent, adoptive parent, or a person acting in loco parentis. The introduction of paternity leave will ensure that a mother gets some support from a father during and after childbirth without compromising their need to provide for their families.
- The main focus behind the introduction of the paternity bill is to recognize that the role of the father as a contributor to child nurturing is of paramount importance. It also allows new fathers to bond with their children.
Paternity Leave- When was it introduced in India?
In September 2017, after the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, a new bill, known as the Paternity Benefit Bill, 2018, was proposed in the Lok Sabha by Rajeev Satav, MP from Maharashtra. Under this new bill, all employees working in both the public and private sector should be granted paternity leave of fifteen days, which can also be extended up to three months. The bill extends to the whole of India, including establishments like mines, factories, plantations, etc. either belonging to the public or private sectors.
However, the concept is not mandatory for private companies. There is no particular law in Indian legislation that regulates the provision of paternity leave for private companies in India. They have the right to set their own rules, and regulations regarding paternity leave. Also, the rules set out in bill 2017 only act as a guideline for the private sector companies, which may be interpreted or formulated by companies in the manner prescribed by top-level management. The Central Industrial Relations Machinery (CIRM), also known as Chief Commissioner Central Organization is responsible for regulating and governing such Acts.
Rules Regarding Paternity leave in India- Government Sector Employees
As per the provisions of Central Civil Services (Leave) Rule 551 (A), 1972, the applicable rules for paternity leave include:
- A male employee with less than two children is allowed to take paternity leave for 15 days, i.e. 15 days before or up to 6 months from the birth of the child.
- If paternity leave is not availed within the specified time period, it will be treated as lapsed.
- An employee on paternity leave is eligible to be paid their leave salary equal to the pay drawn immediately before proceeding on leave. The paternity leave can also be combined with leaves of any other kind.
- The paternity leave is separated and cannot be deducted from the leave account.
- An employer cannot deny the request for paternity leave under any circumstances.
- Similar provisions of paternity leaves apply to the adoption of a child under the age of one year.
Rules Regarding Paternity leave in India- Private Sector Employees
Currently, in India, all the provisions related to paternity leave are only made for government employees. There is no provision applicable under this act for private sector employees. However, in the past couple of years, India has seen a tremendous change in the trend concerning paternity leave.
Private companies in India are free to formulate their policy of paternity leave, and no law mandates them to follow any rules. Despite that, many private companies offer the benefit of paternity leave to their employees. Top companies like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Wipro, and Zomato have ruled out a family-friendly paternity leave policy for their employees.
Regardless of the country or the sector (organized or unorganized), Paternity leave should not be seen as granting of a right, instead, it should come naturally as a vital aspect of workplace policies. Though people in India claim to be evolving and shifting their belief in equality, asking for paternity leave is still a disgrace in some parts of society. In 2020, popular Indian Cricketer Virat Kohli broke through the shackles of this stereotypical thinking by taking paternity leave. If the idea of paternity leave in India is endorsed by more illustrious personalities, it will be a first step in enabling society to acknowledge that childcare is the shared responsibility of both men and women.
Rules for Paternity leave in India and the enactment of the Paternity Benefit Bill, 2017, will be considered better welfare legislation and can do wonders in the future. It will also help to align India with global employment regulations and best practices.