Traditionally, the role of the care-giver has always been performed by the mother. However, as more women trickle into expanding their careers, co-parenting is now at the forefront. Dads are now changing a cliché narrative by staying home with their young ones and hence paternity leave in India isn’t just a fancy word anymore. 

How did Father’s Day come about? 

Mother’s day is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world. From television shows to music and coupons for big bouquets, mums are showered with love and kisses on their day. 
In 1910, a young woman named Sonora Dodd suggested holding a celebration called ‘Father’s Day.’ Inspired by her relationship with her own single parent William Jackson Smart, the idea quickly gained popularity. In 1972, this tiny spark burned with such fervor that President Nixon declared it a national D-Day i.e just for dads.  

With all this buzz around fatherhood, it quickly came to notice that more fathers were choosing to remain at home. Children with positive relationships with father figures had better mental health, higher self-esteem and well-rounded family ties. Yet, although more fathers are opting to stay at home, it is not always financially feasible. As maternity leave gained precedence globally, the concept of paternity leave came under consideration.

What is Paternity Leave? 

Much like its counter-part, Paternity Leave is an employee benefit where the father is given paid or unpaid time away from work to spend time with his newly born infant. It can comprise of a couple of days or a few weeks.

know more about paternity leave in India 

Did You Know? 

The impact of having the father around during the first few months for a newborn is often downplayed. Implementing paternal leave can have positive social and psychological influences.

  • Correcting Gender Imbalances – Increasingly, gender-neutral policies are being encouraged and implemented. Paternity Leave is one such policy that can promote a gender-neutral attitude towards child-care. It breaks the socio-cultural construct that raising a child is solely the role of the woman and helps new mothers rejoin the workforce without excess additional burden.
  • Stronger Bonds – Being a new mother can be a little scary and having support from another parent can work wonders. Paternity Leave allows the father to be there for his wife and new born child. It also gives him time to bond with his child as he assumes responsibilities of bathing, changing diapers and feeding.
  • A happy worker is a productive worker – Paternity Leave is an important tool in employer-employee relations. It displays that the organization takes an interest in the wellbeing of the employee and his family. Moreover, this relaxing break to enjoy family time results in a better morale for employees and a happier attitude towards work.  
  • Getting to know your child – The relationship between father and child is an important emotional bond, one that contributes to overall mental health on both partners. For the child, there is an increase in emotional maturity and a greater understanding of gender equality, breaking down concepts of toxic masculinity. On the part of the father, this time period helps in greater love and understanding towards their offspring and strengthens familial ties and intimacy.

Let’s talk about India 

According to a list by UNICEF, India is one of 192 countries that does not have a national policies warranting fathers get paid time off work for child-care. Despite being a country with a high birth rate, the focus on male care-givers is insignificant. However, this might undergo a change according to the Paternity Benefit Bill. The Bill is a new idea being proposed by policymakers that would allow fathers up to three months of paid paternity leave. 
It’s one step for India, a big leap for fatherhood.

Giving Fatherhood some Company

Despite not being national policy yet, the idea of paternity leave is not without takers. Companies are implementing paternity leave as part of their policy.

  • Netflix – The video and entertainment mogul offers unlimited paid leave to both parents within the first year after the birth or adoption of a child.
  •  Zomato – In 2019, Zomato set a benchmark for paternity leave by offering 26 weeks of paid leave for new fathers. It was the first time an Indian company had taken the step of offering such a lengthy benefit as primarily it was multinational companies that offered such benefits. According to Deepinder Goyal, the founder of Zomato, the lack of paternity leave was one of the major factors for fewer female leaders in organizations. The policy also applies to surrogacy, adoption and same-sex partners.
  • Cisco Systems India – Offers 12 weeks of paid Paternity Leave.

Some Issues with Paternity Leave 

Although Paternity Leave has many pros, it can hit a few snags despite being implemented.

  • The Wage Gap – Women in many countries continue to receive a lesser salary compared to their male counter-parts. In such cases, it’s often more economically feasible for mothers to stay home and care for their children while fathers head off to work. A statistics survey (2017) of Canada revealed that women earn only 75 % of a man’s income. For part-timers, the disparity was larger, with only 69% being earned of a male’s income. In India, the gap is larger and often the role of primary care-giver is still given to a woman based on the earning potential of both parents.
  • Paternity Leave not availed – A study conducted over seven countries by U.S organization Promundo displayed that less than half of new fathers took the paternity leave offered after birth. According to this survey, 86% of Indian men were of the opinion that caring for a child is the mother’s responsibility. Many men preferred not to opt for paternity leave due to fear of losing out on promotions and job security. However, this idea is slowly changing and for the better.

As Wade Boggs said:

“Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad, and that’s why I call you dad, because you are so special to me.”

Many organizations are evolving and mindsets are changing. Are you one of those forward-thinking businesses that care about their employee’s well-being? Tell us what you are doing for your organisation!

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