India among over 90 nations without paid paternity leave for new dads: UNICEF
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India is among almost 90 countries in the world without national policies in place that ensure new fathers get adequate paid time off with their newborn babies, according to a new UNICEF analysis.
- Almost two-thirds of the world’s children under one year old – nearly 90 million – live in countries where their fathers are not entitled by law to a single day of paid paternity leave.
- The UNICEF analysis said. India and Nigeria, which have high infant populations, are among the 92 countries do not have national policies in place that ensure new fathers get adequate paid time off with their newborn babies.
- The UN agency noted that around the world, momentum for family-friendly policies was growing. It cited the example of India, where officials are proposing a Paternity Benefit Bill for consideration in the next session of Parliament which would allow fathers up to three months of paid paternity leave.
- UNICEF said in eight countries across the world, including the United States which is home to nearly four million infants, there was no paid maternity or paternity leave policy.
- Other countries with high infant populations, including Brazil and Congo, all have national paid paternity leave policies, albeit offering relatively short-term entitlements. “Positive and meaningful interaction with mothers and fathers from the very beginning helps shape children’s brain growth and development for life, making them healthier and happier, and increasing their ability to learn. It’s all of our responsibility to enable them to fill this role,”
- Evidence suggests that when fathers bond with their babies from the beginning of life, they are more likely to play a more active role in the child’s development.
- UNICEF urged governments to implement national family-friendly policies that support early childhood development, including paid paternity leave, to help provide parents with the time, resources and information they need to care for their children.
- The new analysis forms part of UNICEF’s ‘Super Dads’ campaign, now in its second year, which aims to break down barriers preventing fathers from playing an active role in their young children’s development. The campaign celebrates Father’s Day – recognised in more than 80 countries in June – and focuses on the importance of love, play, protection and good nutrition for the healthy development of young children’s brains.
Paternal leave and its applicability in India
- Though it’s the mother who actually delivers the child, father plays an equally important role. A father is expected to be emotionally and physically available for both, mother and child, before and after the delivery. Infact, legally accepting and providing two months of paternal leave has resulted in a reduced divorce rate in Sweden.
- In India, 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.
- For paternity leave he shall be paid leave salary equal to the pay last drawn immediately before proceeding on leave. Also, the same rule applies when a child is adopted.
- While paternity leave is sanctioned for government employees, there isn’t any such law that indoctrinates the private sector to make it obligatory. Hence, paternity leave is open to interpretation by individual companies.
- Despite there being no legislation, the New Delhi High Court in 2009 passed a judgment allowing paternity leave in private schools with Chandramohan Jain, a private school teacher, getting his deducted salary back as his leaves were recognised as Paternity leaves by the court.
We all know and understand that for a healthy work culture and to get the optimum efficiency out of an employee, an employer must ensure to provide certain basic amenities like a comfortable work place, healthy working hours, giving the employee enough physical and mental rest etc. Being a country where our family is of first and foremost importance for us, an employer needs to keep in mind that having a child is a start to the chapter of family for almost all, hence, it is an utter necessity to provide reasonable amount of maternity as well as paternity leaves. We must not forget that for a vulnerable new mother and her newly born child, father is the most important person to be around.