Why Indian Fathers Need Paternity Leave
Paternity leave is a paid leave from work granted to fathers before and after the birth of their little ones. And sadly, and unfortunately enough, the concept of paternity leave and the practice of granting the same to the fathers in India have not been prioritized enough. The Indian government has taken significant steps, in the arena of Maternity Leave, and the condition has improved for moms. Moms now will get 26 weeks of paid leave, contrary to the earlier times when they were granted a leave of just 12 weeks.
But paternity leave? The Central Civil Services Leave Rules, enacted in 1997, established paternity leave for men working for the government. Those who have less than two surviving children are entitled to 15 days of paid leave, which can be combined with other leaves. In 2009, the rule was extended to adoptive fathers. However, officials in the private sector failed to recognize the link between the domestic division of labor and workplace equality.
Why is Paternity Leave Important?
Indian society has always overlooked and ignored the role of a father before and after childbirth. It has always prioritized a mom’s role keeping in mind the pregnancy and breastfeeding components in mind. Well, yes, moms go through a lot in order to bring a baby on earth. But how more difficult would it have been if the support of the father was not there with the mother? Parenting is not just about giving birth and breastfeeding, right? No wonder, the moms have snatched away the spotlight and the attention from the dads. Let’s take a moment to appreciate our dads. But now it's time, the society recognizes the role of a father and deems it as important as the mother.
Paternity leave helps in a number of ways. We have listed some of them. Have a look.
1. Strengthening Relationships
The research conducted by Mckinsey revealed that 90% of the men noticed a healthier bond with their partner during their paternity leave. Firstly, it reduces the load on the mother. When a father utilizes his leave, he is able to help the mother in looking after their little one and also take care of the household chores if necessary. And secondly, it is also about emotional support and not just about reducing the physical load of the mom. Baby care is immensely difficult. Every day introduces a new challenge. Many mothers even fall victim to postpartum anxiety and depression. The presence of her partner and his emotional support can perhaps protect her from that. Recent research has also supported the fact that paternity leave promotes greater relationship stability.
2. Shaping the Parental Role from the Beginning
According to the survey by Mckinsey, parenting jointly in the initial days, weeks, or months of a baby's life significantly shapes the family dynamics. “The beginning of becoming parents was a very important time to be together,” a father said during their survey. “We both learned together about the baby, how to raise a child, and the approach we would take as parents and how to be part of that process together.” Fathers can also use paternity leave to lay the groundwork for a more equitable sharing of responsibilities and duties in the future, say, getting children ready for school, preparing their tiffin, etc. In a study, paternity leave has shown to influence parents' decisions on the allocation of resources to childcare, domestic chores, and paid work in the future years.
3. Supporting the Mother’s Career
Dedicated fathers on leave help their partners advance in their jobs. Gender discrimination in the workplace, particularly the pay gap, is reduced when fathers are caretakers. Paternity leave helps in reducing the pay loss of moms.
4. Better Mental Health
Fathers who do spend time with their babies report higher levels of satisfaction and fulfillment, which may extend to their professional lives. In a 2018 poll, 60% of males said childcare hours were "very meaningful," about double the number of men who said the same about the paid job. Apart from that, many new dads have developed a newfound respect for their employers.
While 20% of our respondents said the chance of a career setback was the greatest disadvantage of taking a leave, the majority said the advantages outweigh the risk. They valued the opportunity to take time off as well as the help they received from their coworkers in making it happen.
5. Advantages of Early Bonding with Your Baby
Paternity leave undoubtedly provides the fathers with an amazing bonding experience with their little ones. This helps in establishing a lifelong bond with their child. Some of the respondents in the Mckinsey research reported how their paternity leave helped them to develop a “special” bond that they expect to last for years to come. In a world, where almost half of the fathers complain about the considerably less amount of time they get to spend with their children (nearly twice the rate of mothers who report the same), paternity leave offers the opportunity to the fathers to “be there”.
The greater presence of fathers, as well as an increased rhythm of contact with their children and a re-calibration of what they should emphasize, were linked by fathers in the study to this stronger bond.
Paternity Leave Policies Around the World
Looking at the international scenario, the situation is getting better, however. Four decades ago, Sweden pioneered the concept, making other countries enshrine paternity leave in their laws. More countries and companies all over the world are offering the benefit to fathers changing the cultural context around paternity leave. According to a research conducted by Mckinsey, 90 out of 187 nations across the world provide statutory paid paternity leave, with over four out of ten organizations (38 %) offering paid leave in excess of the statutory minimum. Men's usage of parental leave is on the rise in OECD countries, although the number of days taken is still considerably less. Despite this significant shift in cultural and employer support for fathers, less than half of them use all of the leave benefits provided to them. The take-up of parental leave has been highly gendered in many cases where mothers avail more leave than fathers. Sweden, for example, learned in 1995 that men were only using 10% of their eligibility. Since then, the government has persistently fine-tuned its policy, going from reserving one month of parental leave as an exclusive "daddy's month" to 16 months of paid parental vacation, three months of which must be taken by the father before the child is eight.
Organizations are also providing "parental bonding leave" and "secondary caregiver leave" for LGBTQ+ and adoptive parents, recognizing the significant advantages to individuals and families. However, a very small percentage of people utilize these benefits just like the case with paternity leave.
Top 10 Countries Offering the Best Paternity Leave Policies
The Nordic countries appear to be more generous when it comes to offering the benefit of paternity leave to the fathers.
Lithuania provides fathers with a paid paternity leave of 30 days at a rate of 77.58 % of their usual earnings. Fathers are also offered an additional shared parental leave of up to 36 months, which can be taken in any order. This child-rearing benefit pays the full salary for the first year and 70% compensation for the next two years, all paid through social security.
Japan provides a full year of paid parental leave exclusively for men. This time off is distinct from any time off given to moms. The first half of the employee's regular wage (or 180 days) is paid at 67 % of the usual salary. The remaining amount is paid at 50%. The Japanese government pays the workers.
Both parents are entitled to 480 days of partially paid shared leave in Sweden. Sweden's family-friendly culture encourages parents to share vacation days. Parental leave is paid in three stages, with the first tier starting at 80% of the employee's usual income.
Estonia is a family-friendly country. It is another European country that welcomes families. They provide dads with two weeks of fully paid paternity leave, as well as 435 days of shared parental leave.
In Iceland, new legislation enacted in 2021 increased the length of combined maternity and paternity leave to a total of 12 months, divided equally between the mother and father (six months each). Parents can, however, transfer up to one month of leave to the other parent, allowing one parent to take seven months and the other five. Employees are paid 80% of their yearly income while on leave. Prior to January 20, 2021, each parent was entitled to three months, which could not be transferred.
In Slovenia, fathers are eligible for 12 weeks of paid paternity leave. The father is paid % of his pay for the first two weeks, and then a predetermined minimum wage for the next ten weeks.
Another Nordic country with liberal paternity leave regulations that balance parenting responsibilities and allow for equal participation in the economy is Norway. In Norway, dads have the option of receiving 15 weeks of 100% pay or 19 weeks of 80% pay through social security.
In 2019, Canada modified its paternity and parental leave laws, allowing new dads to take up to five weeks of paternity leave. During paternity and parental leave, Canada pays 55% of the employee's average annual salary, up to a maximum of $573 a week.
Only 11% of dads use their entitlement. In Quebec, on the other hand, where the culture is very family-friendly, up to 84% of fathers take paternity leave. Canada also offers its families 35 weeks of parental leave, which can be split between both the parents.
Recently, France has doubled its paternity leave provision. Earlier, it offered a leave of two weeks to the fathers. Now, it offers four weeks of leave. The first three days of payment are the responsibility of the employer. The final 25 days are covered by social security. In the case of multiple births, fathers get an additional seven days of leave.
In Portugal, new dads get 20 days of paternity leave as usual, plus an additional five days if desired. In Portugal, paternity leave is compensated at 100% of the employee's regular income through social security.
Paternity leave is a necessity in the modern world. It is relaxing that the concept is finally getting its much-deserved importance and attention in many countries over the world. India has a long way to go in the area of paternity leave, and we eagerly wait for that day when daddies will be eligible for paid leave during the crucial phase in their life.