#WhatTheFAQ: Pfizer India announces paternal leaves! Is India becoming more inclusive?

With the changing times, paternity leave has been recognised as important and the trend of such policies has seen growth. Here's what this means
WhatTheFAQ  January 6 | (Pic: Edexlive)
WhatTheFAQ January 6 | (Pic: Edexlive)

Do you think a legislated paternity leave policy is necessary for India? The debate has been raging for a long time, in the courts and otherwise. However, with the changing times, paternity leave has been recognised as important and the trend of such policies has seen growth. 

Today, on January 6, Pfizer India announced a 12-week paternity leave for its employees, citing inclusiveness. What is the significance of this? Is India becoming more inclusive indeed? Let us look at the facts.

What are the laws on paternity leave in India?
In 1961, the maternity leave policy came into effect for women employees. However, there was no such policy for new fathers till 1972. Then the Central Government of India made the provision of this leave for government employees under the Central Civil Services (Leave) Rule. In 2017, the Paternity Benefit Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha. This Bill recognises the role of men in rearing a child. It guaranteed male employees from both organised and unorganised sectors a 15-day leave period, which could be extended. However, the Bill was not passed as some of its provisions needed "attention".

So, do employees not get this leave?
Government employees do get the benefit of paternity leaves. New fathers are granted a period of 15 days' leave. While for natural parents, the leave can be taken either before or after six months of childbirth, adoptive parents can avail of the leave within six months after the date of adoption. However, there is no such policy or rule for private-sector employees. Many private companies form their own policies, just like Pfizer did. And as such, the policies vary from company to company.

Which other Indian companies provide paternity leave?
Here are some top examples:

1. Zomato provides a 26-week parental leave, along with a Rs 69,000 endowment to new parents

2. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) provides 15-day paternity leave

3. Both Infosys and Oracle provide a five-day paternity leave

4. Wipro has a provision of eight-week of paternity leave

5. Deloitte provides a paternity leave of 16 weeks

What about countries abroad?
The parental leave or family leave policies, which include both maternal and paternal leave policies, vary from country to country. While the leave period is the same for both male and female employees in many countries, it is different in some others, as is the case for India. 

For example, in Sweden, new fathers get 90 days of paternity leave with 80 per cent pay of their salaries. Employees in Iceland, on the other hand, get a nine-month parental leave, but they can opt for only three weeks' leave at a time.

What are the benefits of such leave policies?
According to many theorists, parental leave policies are important for the well-being of societies as they ensure freedom and opportunities for citizens. It has also been seen that paid parental leave benefits incentivise the market as more people are interested to work with these opportunities and a larger labour market is created. Others believe that such policies address occupational gender segregation.

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