A thing called Paternity Leave in India exists but most of us are oblivious to that till date. India, although high on developing rate is low on providing such benefits to the employees slaving away. This paper talks about its significance, status, negligence by the government and the people. The study investigates why and how this employee benefit… Read More »

A thing called Paternity Leave in India exists but most of us are oblivious to that till date. India, although high on developing rate is low on providing such benefits to the employees slaving away. This paper talks about its significance, status, negligence by the government and the people. The study investigates why and how this employee benefit is rewarding it is for every person involved in such a transaction.

I. Introduction

It’s probably one of your first times stumbling upon something called Paternity Leave! This is where we come to realise how discriminated it is against Maternity Leave that’s commonly granted almost worldwide while the Paternity Benefit Bill, 2007 hasn’t still seen the light of the day ever since it was proposed in the House. It is high time the idea of Parental became commonplace so that it can well resonate with the needs of working families today.

II. What is it & Why is it Vital?

Paternity leave is a leave of absence granted to the fathers of a newborn by the employer and is usually desired to be paid. It is reckoned to be an employee benefit as it aids the father to provide care to his wife who just delivered along with a chance to bond with the infant while looking after it. This benefit is a two-way street as it carries both organisational and personal benefits.

First, it would preclude job-hopping. As more and more fathers get to spend time with their newborns while experiencing one of the many important events in their lives, it would carry a positive or no effect on their productivity. Research in the US also suggests that mothers are quicker to return to the same place of work where a paid family leave was granted.

Second, one’s workplace eventually takes up to become one’s second home. Therefore, organisational support is necessitated here.

III. Child care not the responsibility of only the Mother

It’s the double standards of society that call for such denial. Given, most of the families have gone nuclear nowadays, as the mother herself has given birth to another human and is recovering and reeling, it becomes daunting for her to take care of herself and the baby by relying on herself.

Postpartum Depression has begun to be an unsurprising thing now. In a nutshell, it is a severe form of depression a new mother, right after childbirth could be faced with. Hence, to help a new mother fully recover and feel better about herself, the environment around her has to be conducive to the healing process. Postnatal care requires a dedicated and dependable person in whom the mother can confide. Who better for the same than the father! Moreover, it’s not just a woman who’s become a parent but a man as well. So, the child should receive the love and care of both the parents for psychological development, hence, they need to be hands-on to serve this purpose.

IV. Paternity Leave status in other Countries

Although some nations have begun to realise the weightiness of Paternity leave, other nations haven’t, so far. The International Labour Organisation Report on Maternity and Paternity at Work 2014[1] suggests Australia introduced a two-week paid paternity leave at the beginning of 2013. In Denmark, fathers are entitled to 14 days of paid paternity leave to be taken during the 14 weeks following birth, which corresponds to the postnatal portion of maternity leave. Estonia provides 14 days of paid paternity leave to be taken during the mother’s maternity leave period or in the two months following birth. In Finland, 54 days of paternity leave are provided as of 2013.

However, as of now, there is ILO standards with respect to paternity or family leave while there are umpteen on maternity leave. This scenario mirrors that this subject requires more attention, and that attention needs to be close and grave.

In India

There is no national legislation concerning paternity leave in a developing nation like India that forms around 7.09% of the world economy as of 2019. There are always some employees who want or have to place their duties towards their family before their work at certain points of time.

As more and more citizens are quitting the patriarchal lifestyle and accommodating themselves to the contemporary and an equivalent one, the most primary responsibility of nursing a newborn is being shouldered by both the parents on an equal footing now. However, it’s only the mother in India who can reap some benefits out of this through the Maternity Benefits Act[2].

V. Paternity Leave and Fundamental Rights

The prerogative of paternity leave in India finds its roots to Articles 21, 14, 15 and 16 and 42 of the Indian Constitution. The father’s rudimentary right as well as duty to take care of his newborn is as fundamental in nature as looking after one’s own helpless self. In the 21st century, where people have begun to prioritise both of their professional and personal lives by putting them on the same footing, the concept of paternity leave comes as no exception.

Article 21 enunciates that a human’s life is all-encompassing aspects that concern itself to the quality of mankind’s lifetime. Hence, rearing of one’s baby directly concerns itself with the parent and has much more meaning to it than just a paid leave and thus, the father should be entitled to this essential break. Moreover, the right to equality entails both men and women, without fail, as under Article 14. So, the leave to look after one’s child should be granted to both the parents, without any prejudice, discrimination (Article 15) or favouritism.

Speaking of which, no matter what sex, both men and women deserve equal and congenial work environment and possess the right to equality in matters related to employment in the public sector, as under Article 16. This necessitates the grant of both maternity and paternity leave in this contemporary society to reduce gender gap and promote equality.

Paternity Benefits Bill, 2017

The Objective of the Bill is “Child care is the joint responsibility of both parents. They must devote time to the newborn to ensure its proper well-being,” said Congress MP Mr. Rajeev Satav. The Bill proposes a leave ranging from at least 15 days to 3 months from the date of delivery of the child. It ONLY applies for upto 2 children. However, a new employee in a company becomes eligible to avail this benefit only after he completes 80 working days in the aforesaid organisation. Similar benefits and advantages would be extended to adoptive parents as well. Failure to conform to the provisions laid down will lead to imprisonment of the employer which would extend for upto a year or a fine.

The roadblock here is that this Bill has not been given immediate attention and hence, never came about. If this Bill is passed in the future, it would give impetus to working families to do well both in their private and professional lives since such benefits would help them to strike the perfect balance the parents need between the two worlds. This would also enhance their employee efficiency, all while trying to be there for their family when it’s imperative and strengthening the relationships within. It would be nothing but the most righteous Act to ameliorate living standards of people and keep the economy afloat and thriving.

VI. Position in Public and Private Entities

The Central Government in 1999, under Central Civil Services (Leave) Rule 551 (A), introduced provisions for Paternity leave in India, applicable only to the employees working in the Government sector.

However, there has been no enactment of any such law with regard to Private Sector in the country. The employers, either of their own accord or being bound by some Company Policies extend such a benefit of leave of absence but they are not obligated by law to do so. Hence, it doesn’t have any force of law.

In the case of Chander Mohan Jain v. N.K. Bagrodia Public School and Others, 2009[3] it was held by the High Court of Delhi that all male employees of unaided and recognized private schools have the right to paternity leave.

The provisions of the proposed Paternity Act DO NOT extend to workers in the unorganised sector. It is upto the sheer discretion of the employers to grant such a leave.

VII. Conclusion

India, the world’s 5th largest economy but with an HDI ranking of 131 out of 189 countries manifests the standard of living of the people here. Paternity Leave should not be seen as Granting a right, but should come naturally as it’s a vital aspect. Asking for this benefit is still a disgrace in the society although the people claim to be evolving and shifting their beliefs to equality.

A Survey has also shown that about 27 percent of men in Brazil took no paternity leave, 20 percent in Argentina and 16 percent in Britain. This scenario prevails as men fear job loss if they ask for a paid leave like this. They are also mortified if they take it up as we are still in the phase of shifting from a Patriarchal to an Equality-for-all society. If a woman has now begun to pay her share in the house, pulled a plug on patriarchal practices, she deserves that the father does his part too.

The task of babysitting is still considered a woman’s job and people won’t have it any other way. What they don’t seem to understand is that both the parents need to share such a responsibility. However, India cricketer Virat Kohli broke through the shackles of this stereotype by taking a paternity leave in 2020. If many such illustrious personalities begin to set such examples, it won’t be far when it becomes a norm. Furthermore, to sanction such a practice, an enactment of the Paternity Benefit Bill, 2017 has the power to do wonders.

[1] Laura Addati, Naomi Cassirer and Katherine Gilchrist, Maternity and Paternity at Work 52

[2] Maternity Benefits Act, 1961, Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948

[3] Chander Mohan Jain v. NK Bagrodia Public School and Others, (2009), 163DLT 1

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Updated On 22 April 2021 2:37 AM GMT
Harshita Gogia

Harshita Gogia

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