After the development in the Maternity Benefits Amendment Bill in Rajya Sabha, the need for enhanced paternity leave is growing stronger. Talking about which, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said that such a legislation will have little impact in our country.
In a conversation with The Indian Express, Maneka said that men in India do not utilise their existing leaves in order to take care of their child. She added that paternity leave can be considered only once the woman goes back to work after 26 weeks of leave. I will be happy to consider this proposal, but it will just be a holiday for me, he won’t do anything, said Maneka.
“If men gave me one iota of hope by taking sick leave for child care, then yes, we can think of mooting a proposal for paternity leave,” Maneka said.
It was on the insistence of Ministry of Labour and Employment that the Maternity Benefit Amendment Bill expanded the leaves from existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks. The Bill also takes into account adoptive mother or surrogacy and encourages employers to offer creche facility when the organization has more than 50 employees. While this yet to be passed in Lok Sabha in the Winter Session, if done, it will equate India to the ranks of Eastern European and Nordic countries that offer the longest fully paid maternity leave.
According to a notification issued in the late ’90s under the Central Civil Services Leave Rules, men in government sector — biological as well as adoptive fathers — can take 15 days of paid leave, which they are allowed to merge with any other leave. There is no legislation mandating compulsory leave for fathers in the private sector, with many companies granting paternity leave for a week or two at the most.