In this article, Priyanshi Pandey discusses the policies around Paternity Leave in India.
At times, it is necessary for employees to avail themselves of leave in order to fulfil their parental duties. Parental leave benefits set out the entitlements for parents of children under the relevant age and how an organisation must accommodate those individuals. The Government of India has enacted the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 where women are entitled to certain benefits, perks, facilities to raise their children whereas there is no legislation for paternity benefits. Being a country where our family is of first and foremost importance to us, it is an utter necessity to provide reasonable amount of maternity as well as paternity leaves.
The proposition of Paternity Benefit Bill, 2017
In 2017, After the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, a new bill is known as Paternity Benefit Bill had been proposed by Rajeev Satav, MP from Maharashtra, in the Lok Sabha in September for the benefits of fathers of newborns. The bill states that all workers, including those in the unorganised and private sector, get paternity leave of fifteen days extendable up to three months. It emphasized on equal parental benefits for both the mother and the father.
According to his words, “Child care is the joint responsibility of both parents. They must devote time to the newborn to ensure its proper well-being”.
Government Sector Employees: Paternity Leave
There are certain provisions for employees working in government sector to possess benefits of paternity leaves. The Central Government in 1999, by notification under Central Civil Services (Leave) Rule 551 (A) made provisions for paternity leave –
- for a male Central Government employee (including an apprentice and probationer)
- with less than two surviving children
- for a period of 15 days to take care of his wife and new born child.
- He can avail this leave 15 days before or within 6 months from the date of delivery of child.
- If such leave is not availed within the period, it shall be treated as lapsed.
- He shall be paid leave salary equal to the pay last drawn immediately before proceeding on leave.
Case Law: Paternity Leave in Private Schools
In the year 2009, in Chander Mohan jain v. N.K Bagrodia Public School , Chander mohan Jain, a private school teacher moved to the High Court of Delhi challenging the rejection of his paternity leave application and deduction of his salary by N K Bagrodia Public School for taking leave to take care of his wife and the newly born child. Despite there being no legislation, New Delhi High Court in this case held that all male employees of unaided recognised private schools were entitled to paternity leave. The court then directed the school to refund the deducted amount to Chander mohan Jain. Therefore, providing relief to private sector teachers.
Private Sector Employees: Paternity Leave
While paternity leave is sanctioned for government employees, there isn’t any such law that mandates private sectors to provide the paternity leaves to its employees. Therefore, paternity leave is open to interpretation by individual companies. Some of the major multinational companies have already taken steps towards implementing the paternity leave through their HR policies. Some of them are –
- Microsoft : 12 weeks of Paternity Leave.
- Infosys : 5 days of Paternity Leave.
- Facebook : 17 weeks of Paternity Leave.
- Starbucks : 12 weeks of Paternity Leave.
- TCS : 15 days of Paternity Leave.
- Oracle : 5 days of Paternity Leave
- Deloitte : 16 weeks of Paternity Leave.
UNICEF: Paternity Leaves
UNICEF had the provision of four weeks paid paternity leaves to its male employees but now it has been extended to sixteen weeks across all its offices worldwide. With this modernized approach, UNICEF has become the first United Nations Agency to extend such leave beyond the standard four weeks. This step has been taken to give adequate time to fathers and their child.
Paternity Benefit Bill, 2017
After the introduction of Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, Rajeev Satav proposed a Paternity Benefit Bill in September 2017 in Lok Sabha, to protect the paternity rights of working men. Some of the major aspects that are mentioned in the bill are – (Be it enacted by the Parliament )
It extends to the whole of India. The Act shall be applicable to all the establishments like factory, mine, plantation etc either belonging to the Government of India or private sectors. The provisions include all the men of government sector and private sector, also including those who are self-employed or working in an unorganised sector where less than ten persons are employed.
Every employee shall be entitled to receive the paternity benefit with the same rate as the average daily wage payable to him on days which he has worked or the minimum rate of wage fixed or revised under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 or ten rupees whichever is the highest for the period of his paternity leave.
- Working Duration
A man will be entitled to the benefit only if he has actually worked in the establishment from whom he claims paternity benefit for a period not less than eighty days in the twelve months immediately preceding the expected date of delivery of child. The qualifying period of eighty days will not be applicable to a man who has recently immigrated into the state and whose wife was pregnant at the time of immigration.
- Duration of Leave
Any man with less than two surviving children will be entitled to receive paternity benefit for the period of fifteen days, of which not more than seven days shall precede the date of expected delivery. It will be availed upto three months from the date of delivery of child. This Act also provides provisions for exceptional cases like –
- If the man dies immediately following the date of delivery of his child for which he is entitled to the paternity benefit, leaving behind the child, the employer will be liable for providing the benefit for entire paternity period to the nominee of that man.
- If the child also dies during the paternity period, then the employer is liable to provide paternity benefit for the days up to the death of the child, including the date of death (child).
- Parental Benefit Scheme
The Central Government under this Act will introduce a scheme with proper guidelines to be known as the Parental benefit Scheme for providing paternity benefit to every man.
- Parental Scheme Benefit Fund
Under this scheme, the government will create a Fund to be known as the Parental Benefit Scheme Fund for carrying out the purposes of paternity benefits. All employees (irrespective of gender), employers and the Central Government would contribute to the Fund in such ratio as may be prescribed. The Fund then will be utilised to meet the costs related to paternity benefit under this Act.
- Advance Payment of Salary
The amount under paternity benefit for the period preceding the date of expected delivery of child to man, will be paid in advance by the employer to employee on production of proof that his wife is expecting a child, and the amount due for the subsequent period should be paid to the employee within forty eight hours of production of proof.
- No dismissal
Whenever a man takes leave in accordance with the provisions of this Act, it will be held unlawful for his employer to discharge or dismiss him from the establishment during or on account of such absence or to give notice of discharge or dismissal on such a day that the notice will expire.
- Inspecting Officer
The appropriate government by giving notification in the Official Gazette may appoint officers as it thinks fit to be a Inspector for meeting the objectives of this Act. The local limits of the jurisdiction within which they will exercise their functions will be defined by the governing authority. Every Inspector appointed under this Act is deemed to be a public servant within the meaning of section 21 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- Non-fulfilment of Benefit
If an employer fails to pay any amount of paternity benefit to a man entitled under this Act, he will be punished with imprisonment, not less than three months but may extend to one year and with fine which will not be less than twenty thousand rupees but may extend to fifty thousand rupees.
In case of miscarriage, the Act provides that the employee after production of such proof is entitled to wages at the rate of paternity benefit for the period of seven days immediately following the day of the miscarriage.
According to the provisions of this Act, every man who legally adopts a child below the age of three months or the legal husband of the commissioning mother, will be entitled to paternity benefit for a period of fifteen days from the date the child is handed over to the adopting father or legal husband of the commissioning mother.
Objective: Paternity Benefit Bill, 2017
The main aim of this bill is to provide benefit to natural parent, adoptive parent, or a person acting in loco parentis to the relevant child. If it is enacted by the Parliament, it will benefit the population of 32 crore men in the labour force (NSSO, 2012 data), including those in the unorganised sector. Introduction of paternity leave will ensure that the mother gets some support from the father during and after childbirth, who is not forced to return to the workforce in order to generate income. At present, the Central employees under the All India and Central Civil Services Rules can avail a paid fifteen day paternity leave which puts India in the top fourteen countries to provide the highest maternity leave and by providing a fifteen days paid paternity leave to all the sectors, India will be in top thirteen countries to provide the highest paternity leave and other associated benefits.
Paternity Leave Policies around the World
India comes among 92 countries in the world without any national provisions for paid paternity leave. Nonetheless having the most infant mortality rate, countries like India, Nigeria, China don’t have any provisions of paternity leave to entitle any benefit to fathers. Comparatively, countries with higher infant population like Brazil and most of the European countries have the best parental leave policies.
- Norway: The statutory parental leave is either 49 weeks at 100% salary or 59 weeks at 80% salary to be divided between both parents but with some constraints. The father is entitled to take 2 weeks paid leave when the child is born and must take additional 14 weeks of paid leave before the child turns 3 years of age. The remaining weeks to use are up to the parents how they want to use it.
- Iceland: Both the parents have an independent right to parental leave of three months and also have a joint right to three additional months, which may be either taken by one of the parents or equally divided between them.
- Sweden: Parents are provided the policy of getting 480 days (16 months)of paid parental leave at 80% of their salary. They are also entitled to 180 bonus days in case of twins. Swedish fathers must take at least three of those 16 months. The days do not expire till the time the child reaches age of 8.
- Spain: Fathers are entitled to 30 days paid leave to do justice with fatherhood and bond with the new born child at 100% of covered pay.