The term Work-life balance
originated in the U.K. during the time of
Industrial Revolution. It means balance between the work life and the family
life. In the Women's Liberation Movement, women demanded that their working
hours should be reduced as they had to do household work and child rearing.
Because society did not put any responsibility on men for housekeeping and women
alone bared the pressure of family rearing.
With the changing times, men and
women are no longer confined to their traditional roles of earing and
housekeeping respectively. In today's society we strive for gender equality yet
women continue to struggle alone with the work-life balance
paternity leave is a step towards gender equal society. This paper reviews the
existing laws related to paternity laws in India and around the globe. It
discusses the significance of paternity leave with the help of studies conducted
in this field. Further, the paper gives recommendations for the formulation of
new policies in the absence of any effective law.
Parent refers to a mother or a father. Merriam Webster defines parent as one
that begets or brings forth offspring
.  A child is an offspring of both
mother and father. When a child is born, he needs special care and nurturing and
it is natural for parents to take time off from work for child rearing. This off
time is known as parental leave. Parental leave is a combination of maternity
and paternity leave, it is an absence from work by mother and father
respectively. It is unfortunate that parental leave has become synonyms to
Traditionally, the society has divided labour based on gender, where household
chores and child rearing is considered as women's job whereas men are
breadwinners. Society has evolved over the years, women have started working and
equally contribute to family income. Similarly, 21st century men are involved in
household work and child rearing more than ever. Sadly, this change has not been
reflected in governmental policies and laws in India.
Men are no more the sole earners and are actively involved in family
responsibilities still women remain the primary caregivers. This is a reality
even in the Scandinavian countries, who were the first ones to grant paternity
leave and promote gender equality at home as well as at workplace.
Paternity leave becomes all the more important in today's society where both the
parents are working and live in nuclear families as opposed to joint families.
It is imperative for both the parents to contribute equally in child rearing. We
need laws which encourage fathers to take leave so that mothers can return to
work in a short time. Paternity leave is a necessity, as it allows fathers to fulfil their family responsibilities and mothers can get an equal opportunity to
further their careers.
Significance of paternity leave
In India there is no independent legislation to govern the laws of paternity
leave. The only provision that is available can be found in the leave rules for
state and central government employees, which provide 15 days of leave, whereas
mothers are provided 182 days off.
A minor difference in number of days for
paternity leave and maternity leave can be justified because women need time to
recover after delivery and for breastfeeding but the huge disparity that exists,
where paternity leave is only 8.2 percent of the maternity leave is
unjustifiable. This disparity is the result of the ethos and the stereotype that
exist in our society that women are solely responsible for child-rearing, and
Indian Laws approve such societal mind-set through its regressive policy on
Women have to eventually bear the brunt. They are discriminated in the
workplace, employees are often reluctant to hire women with similar capabilities
as men because they feel that women will lose significant number of days in the
process of child rearing.
Also women are considered responsible for looking
after household chores because of which they may be considered less productive.
At the same time in the absence of full responsibility for child rearing they
can use the time to further their careers. This is the same reason for pay
disparity at workplace, where females are paid less than their male counterparts
for similar nature of work. Women even leave their jobs, temporarily or
sometimes permanently for child rearing and to look after their family lives.
This results in lack of diversity in organisations.
According to the Zomato blog on paternity leave, their organisation has some of
the finest female leaders but still there are very few females working at senior
level. This is the reality of entire world where senior positions are occupied
by overwhelming majority of males. Even if an organisation takes an initiative
to hire more females for such positions, it becomes quite difficult because of
Studies demonstrate that when organisations formulate policies which are family
friendly and support more time off for fathers, it benefits a child in his
social, emotional and intellectual growth. Further it helps in reducing gender
stereotyping. Other than that if organisations support equitable paid leave for
both the parents, it protects mothers from discrimination in hiring, promotion
and salary. Such discrimination is known as the motherhood penalty that
mothers have to pay in the absence of equitable paternity leave.
A study done in Canada concluded that the increase in number of paternity leave
taken by fathers is directly proportional to increase in number of work hours by
mothers. A different study done in Sweden found that women's labour force
participation is positively influenced by increased number of paternity leave
taken by fathers.
If a law relating to equitable paid paternity leave is passed, it will promote
gender equality. This policy will help in resolving the issue of wage disparity
because men will receive equal paid leave as women, and when men will equally
share the responsibility of child rearing, it will ensure quick return of
females to work.
Paternity leave will not only give an egalitarian point of view to the society
but is equally important for the well-being of fathers and children. Child
rearing is not just a responsibility but a right of every father to bond with
his child in the initial months of his life.
A research shows that fathers who take at least 2 or more weeks leave have
higher probability to participate in childcare activities as compared to those
who do not avail such leaves. Additionally, it is found that active involvement
of father results in better performance of a child than children with less
The positive impact of such early father-child bonding is
not restricted to early years. According to a paper published in 2019, it was
found that children who spent initial months bonding with their fathers, feel
closer to them even 9 years later. Also another research conducted on married
parents found that, if fathers take paternity leave, it reduces the risk of
divorce. Sharing responsibility in child rearing early-on sets a pattern
which ensures that fathers take responsibility of childcare activities even
after the leave gets over.
A research suggests that family friendly policies ensure higher employee
retention and job satisfaction, both the aspects annul the amount spent in
paternity benefits. In a research it was also found that fathers are willing to
take leave to support their child but they believe that they can take leaves
only when their colleagues and employer support their choices. As they have a
genuine fear of being left behind in their careers if it is not the norm at the
The need for paternity leave couldn't be emphasised more for single fathers and
same-sex couples. In Navtej Singh Johar v. UOI
, Supreme Court decriminalised
homosexual relationships. But presently there is no law on adoption by
homosexual couples in India.
Maternity and Paternity Laws in India
Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017:This act is an amendment to Maternity Benefits Act 1961. The act makes paid
leave available to the mothers of new born. Earlier a pregnant woman was
permitted 12 weeks leave out of which up to 6 weeks can be availed before
delivery. The amended act has extended the time period of 12 weeks to 26 weeks
and 6 weeks to 8 weeks. The benefit is reduced for a woman who has two or more
than two surviving children. In this case she can take 12 weeks leave out of
which up to 6 weeks can be availed before delivery. Further, a new provision has
been inserted which allows adoptive mothers to take 12 weeks leave, if the
adopted child is below the age of three months. Similarly, a ‘commissioning
mother' is allowed to take 12 weeks leave. A commissioning mother is a woman who
gives birth through surrogacy.
Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 1972:These rules are applicable on Government servants appointed to the civil
services and posts in connection with the affairs to the Union, subject to the
exceptions mentioned under Rule 2. Rule 43-A provides paternity leave for a
period of 15 days to a male employee with less than two surviving children. This
leave can be availed during the confinement of his wife for child birth or up to
six months from the date of delivery of the child. If it is not claimed within
the specified time, it will be lapsed. Similar rules can be found in the leave
rules of state governments.
Paternity Benefit Bill, 2017
A private member bill was proposed by the congress MP Rajeev Satav. This bill
was an initiative to grant paternity leave to fathers working in all sectors
including private and unorganised sectors. The bill made 15 days fully paid
leave available to fathers out of which up to 7 days can be availed preceding
the expected date of pregnancy. The leave can be taken within 3 months from the
date of delivery of the child. The bill proposed to extend similar benefits to
During presentation of the bill in Lok Sabha, a report of International Labour
Organisation was cited, this report quoted researcher Erin Rehel on role of the
father, "By drawing fathers into the daily realities of childcare, free of
workplace constraints, extended time off provides the space necessary for
fathers to develop the parenting skills and sense of responsibility that then
allows them to be active co-parents rather than helpers to their female
This bill is much needed for making paternity leave available to fathers but the
bill never saw light of the day and couldn't become the act.
Delhi High Court has given a progressive judgment in this regard. In 2009, in Chander
Mohan Jain v. N.K Bagrodia Public School
, a private school teacher was given a
relief on rejection of his application for paternity leave and deduction in his
salary. This judgment was given in the absence of legislation governing
paternity leave in private sector.
Private Sector approach towards Paternity Leave
Although there is no law for governing paternity leave in private sector but
some multi-national companies have taken an initiate to give some time off to
the fathers of new born.
ZomatoIt is an Indian based food-delivery company. On June 3, 2019, Zomato announced
its paternity leave policy through its blog. It offers 26 weeks paid parental
leave for both men and women. This policy applies on surrogate parents, adoptive
parents and same-sex couples.
This is a revolutionary policy because private companies are reluctant to grant
such a long period of paid paternity leave. Other than Zomato, IKEA and Novartis
provide 26 weeks paternity leave but these companies are based in Sweden and
Switzerland respectively. It is laudable for a company based in India to take
such a step. Also, companies which provide paternity leave in India are based in
some developed country with global presence.
IKEAIt is a Swedish based company of furniture. It provides 6 months paternity as
well as maternity leave in Indian offices. The leave can be availed by a male
employee only when his wife re-joins the work. This policy coves surrogates,
single parents and adoptions. 
AmazonIt is an American based company which works in various areas including
e-commerce, cloud computing etc. In 2015, it took an initiative to allow 6 weeks
paternity leave. This policy has two exclusive features. Firstly, it has a
‘Leave Share' plan, which provides an opportunity to share a parental leave with
other spouse who is not an employee at amazon and whose employer does not grant
paid parental leave. Secondly, its ‘Ramp Back' plan which gives an opportunity
to work on a flexible schedule for a period of 8 weeks and shortened work
NovartisIt is a Swiss based pharmaceutical company. In 2019, it started 26 weeks paid
leave to both the parents of a new born child through birth, adoption or
surrogacy. Similar parental leave policies are provided by many private
organisations such as Netflix, Google, Facebook, Reddit, Etsy etc.
Paternity Laws in other countries
Nordic countries have been a pioneer of paternity leave. Nordic countries
comprise of Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland.
Sweden was the first country to allow paid parental leave in the year 1974,
which can be shared by both the parents. It grants highest number of parental
leave among Nordic countries i.e. 480 days, out of which 90 days are solely
reserved for each parent. It means that these 90 days cannot be transferred from
one parent to another, and if not availed it will lapse. Remaining days can be
shared between the parents as per their convenience.
In 2020, Finland became the first country to grant equal number of maternity and
paternity leave. Each parent will get 164 days leave, out of which parents are
permitted to transfer 69 days of quota. 
In 1993, Norway introduced ‘daddy quota', which is exclusively reserved for
fathers and leaves from this quota cannot be transferred to mothers. Currently,
daddy quota is 15 weeks. It provides 49 weeks of fully paid parental leave or 59
weeks of parental leave with 20% reduced salary.
It makes available 52 weeks of parental leave for both the parents. It had daddy
quota, like Norway, but it was abolished in 2002.
Iceland's parental leave plan is divided into three parts. It allows 3 months of
paternity as well as maternity leave. Additionally, 3 months leave can be shared
by the parents.
Portugal has gender-neutral leave policy, it allows 120 days leave with 100%
salary and an optional 30 days leave with 80% salary.
UN agencies provide 4 weeks paternity leave but UNICEF has extended it to 16
weeks. In 2020, UNICEF UK has made a gender neutral parental leave policy.
It allows 52 weeks leave irrespective of gender or sexual orientation.
Firstly, there is a need to pass an independent Union Legislation which can
regulate paternity leave in all sectors. The legislation should be made
applicable even cases of surrogacy as well as adoption. The allotment of number
of days for paternity leave should be at least 75% of the number of days for
maternity leave. Other than physical recovery after delivery and breastfeeding,
men and women deserve equal number of days off for the purpose of child rearing.
Secondly, the current leave rules for government employees allow 15 days of paid
leave only in case of less than two surviving children and maternity leave is
also reduced from 26 weeks to 12 weeks in case of a women having two or more
than two surviving children. The reduced benefit is a result of population
control policy of the Indian government. In order to ensure gender equality at
workplace and at home, the benefit of paternity leave should not be reduced to
zero even in case of two or more than two surviving children but at least 75% of
the reduced maternity leave should be given as paternity leave. The idea behind
such policy is that paternity leave should be seen at par with maternity leave.
Thirdly, paternity leave should be made mandatory for fathers. In India, the
culture of toxic masculinity still exists and many men might not be comfortable
in taking a fully paid paternity leave. It is important that our laws should be
such, which push men to equally contribute towards family life and make it a
norm. Especially in private sector where the employer may not fire an employee
for availing paternity leave, still may be reluctant to give him a salary raise
or a much deserved promotion. Also, men may not avail paternity leave because of
Lastly, a father who is on paternity leave should not be allowed to engage in
any kind of paid work on temporary basis and no employer should knowingly engage
any male who is on paternity leave.
It is required to formulate policies which remove the stigma from the society
that only men are the breadwinners and are incapable to look after their child.
Gender stereotyping not only affect females but it negatively impact males as
well. In the absence of paternity leave they are deprived from bonding in early
years with their child. Parental leave laws should not discriminate men against
women. Equitable parental leave helps in breaking traditional roles of male and
It is unfortunate that maternity benefit laws have failed to protect women
working in unorganised sector. In fact, there is no law as such that can cover
contractual women employees for maternity benefit. Effective implementation of
paternity leave to unorganised sector looks like a pipe dream.
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Child Development: Are They Related? Evidence from Four OECD
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