Paternity benefits facilitate fathers

Paternity Benefits Facilitate FathersWith the rise in number of nuclear families and equal status granted to women compared to men world over, no longer are mothers solely held responsible for taking care and upbringing their kids. Today, fathers inevitably share this responsibility too.

As a matter of general perception, in India while talking about work life and children, it is mainly a woman who is considered to take care of the duties. This is due to the general belief that mothers are more active for upbringing of a child.

In India, legislative enactments like Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, Factories Act, 1948, etc. greatly support women as they ease their efforts to strike a balance between work life and family. This is materialized as these legislations inherently contain provisions for maternity benefits and leave. Certainly, these legislations aid women in particular but now even men are no more ignored. In 1997, the Fifth Pay Commission introduced 15 days of paternity leave for male central government employees with less than two surviving children. This leave can be availed 15 days before or within six months from the date of delivery of child. Also during the period of leave, the employee is entitled to salary equal to the pay drawn immediately before proceeding on leave. The benefit has been extended even to apprentices and adoptive fathers.

Many State governments were also witnessed to be following the Central government’s move and extending such benefits to their employees. States like Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, etc. are the initiators in advancing paternity benefits. Delhi government has extended the benefit to the staff of unaided public schools also.

Despite of all this, it is to be accepted that there are no legal obligations on private sector companies to provide the same. Nevertheless, many progressive private sector companies have started extending such facilities to its male employees. Companies like NIIT, Microsoft, Google, Accenture, and Intel have paternity leave policy in place. Companies like Cisco have even surpassed the public sector as it offers paternity leave for a period of 12 weeks.

Also it may be noted that institutions like Reserve Bank of India better understands the importance of paternity leave while giving men the benefit of leave on adoption of a child too.5On the same lines, TCS has made provisions for special leave to single parents, men or women, who adopt children.

However, employees are always eager about benefits they are entitled to. But at times it is surprising to know that they are ignorant about their existing rights. An interesting instance revealing the same can be cited as Mr. Kargaonkar became the first Mumbai Police officer to take paternity leave in 2007 that is after almost a decade of enactment.

Certainly, the law facilitates people by extending benefits to them but on the counter part it is the responsibility of the people to be aware of the same and utilize them as surely,



- Palak Lotiya (views expressed in the article are that of the author)