From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not Much
Mains level : Parental care and associated societal perspectives
Indian cricket captain has opted for paternity leave amidst an ongoing tournament. This has led to his criticism as well as praise for prioritizing family.
Q.Paternity leave is one of the solutions which can help in ending the “motherhood penalty”. Examine with context to working mothers.
What is Paternity leave?
- Paternity leave is a short period of leave for the father to take immediately following childbirth to help care for the child and assist the mother.
- Parental leave is a longer period of leave granted to look after the infant child, usually after the expiration of paternity/maternity leave.
Legal Aspects of Paternity Leave in India
There is no specific or explicit law for paternity leave in India.
- Maternity leave is governed by the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 which was last amended in 2017 to enhance the period of maternity leave to 26 weeks from the previous 12 weeks.
- The Central Civil Service (Leave Rules), 1972 allows for 15 days of paid paternity leave before childbirth or up to 6 months from the date of the delivery of the child.
- An attempt was made to introduce a pan India legislation on paternity leave in 2017 as a private member’s bill in Lok Sabha, but it was not successful.
- The Paternity Benefit Bill, 2017, provided for a paid leave of fifteen days which could be availed up to three months from the date when the child was born.
- It also included an adopted child below the age of three months and applied to men in the organised i.e. private as well as unorganised sectors.
- The longest leave –– six months –– is provided by Ikea, which extends rules from home country Sweden to India.
- Among Indian companies, Zomato made news in 2019 when it decided to give 26-week paternity leave to its employees.
Precursors in India
- The Central Government recently announced that male government employees who are ‘single parents’ which included widowers, divorcees, or unmarried men raising children single-handedly would now be entitled to “child care leave” (CCL).
- Here, they would receive 100% of the leave salary for the first 365 days of leave and 80% of leave salary for the next 365 days.
- This leave was previously only available to women employees.
Why paternity leave matters?
- Most working new mothers (for those who can make that choice) opt for maternity leave either just before the birth or after childbirth.
- It paves the way for at least their temporary, and sometimes their permanent exit from the workplace.
- On the other hand, not many fathers experience much difference in their employment and workplace situation after their child is born, which may either be voluntary by not taking time off or involuntary.
- This structural difference is one of the key components that influence gender dynamics both in the workplace and at home.
The gender dynamics behind
- Lack of paternity leave not only robs new fathers of the crucial chance to bond with their newborn child but also reinforces women’s role as the primary caregiver and underpins the belief that child care is predominantly the mother’s job.
- Paternity leave is a way to directly address the gender dynamic that prevails both at the workplace and at home.
- The undue burden of childcare that is placed on women at home is bound to and does, spill over into their workplace and professional lives.
- The natural effect of it is that it puts hurdles across women’s careers and might slow their growth prospects while some women might choose to quit altogether.
- By only having maternity leaves and not giving due consideration to paternity leave, the stereotype that women belong at home, taking care of children is reinforced.
- By no means is the introduction of paternity leave a panacea for gendered workplaces, but it will be a significant step in combating and overcoming stereotype.
- For India, a decent way to begin would be to have a national policy on paternity leave that would include all fathers and would apply irrespective of whether they worked in the organised or unorganised sectors.
- Shifting from a purely maternity oriented care framework to a parental care framework which would involve both parents would be beneficial for all stakeholders and is what we need today.
- A major benefit that accrues from paternity leave is that it eases pressure and stigma from women at the workplace, as they no longer are the only ones who are taking leave for child care purposes.
- Paternity leave is also one of the solutions which can help in ending the “motherhood penalty”.
- The motherhood penalty is a term that describes the disadvantages that women with children face as compared to women who don’t in workplaces.
- Fathers need to be active co-parents and not just helpers to their female partners/wives.
- And for ones with feminist’s perspectives, they should not look paternity leave as a sole vacation for men.