Why Fathers Needing Paternity Leaves Is Not A Myth, But A Necessity

Posted on October 22, 2014 in Masculinity, Society, Specials, Taboos

By Kathakali Banerjee:

“It is the mother who takes all the pains of childbirth. She should be the one taking care and catering to the baby’s needs after it is born. What does a father have to do in it?”

That was a common notion until Sweden woke up to fight against it in 1974, emerging as the first nation to introduce the concept of paternity leave (paid or unpaid leave granted to a male employee when his child is born) to allow the fathers to get accustomed to their newly acquired designation.

Indian father new born

Our beloved country took twenty five long years to understand its necessity and in 1999, paternity leave was finally made legal by the Central Government by notification under Central Civil Services (Leave) Rule 551 (A). While it is applicable to all Central Government employees and some State Government employees as well, a fairly large portion of private firms are still toying with the idea of implementing it.

The Central Government allows 15 days leave before or within 6 months from the date of delivery of the child. If the leave is not availed within the sanctioned period, it shall be considered as lapsed. The father shall be paid leave salary equal to the pay last drawn immediately before proceeding on leave. The same rule applies when a child is adopted. Unfortunately, there is no law that forces the private sector to consider it as mandatory.

Corporate Scheme – A Brief Overview

We acknowledge modern man’s understanding of a father’s role during childbirth in contemporary times, yet there is no standard policy on paternity leave in private organisations.

Several corporate biggies in India consider it as a luxury, and despite Government’s sanction, they refuse to inscribe any terms of paternity leave in their employee contracts.

Infosys offers 5 days and NIIT offers 7 days paid leave, which can be availed for a maximum of 2 children. Companies like Wipro and Biocon are too obdurate to grant any leave to their employees. However, a handful of companies like Microsoft and Cisco Systems do allow a 2 weeks leave for their employees.

Considering the countries, USA is the only highly progressive and developed country that considers such leave as pure luxury and never bothers to grant one, it is impressively followed by Germany.

Fathers’ Presence Is Obligatory – A Myth Or A Reality?

We rarely consider psychological connotations of a situation, nor do we imagine any long term consequences. If we do a little thinking, then we might be able to decipher the fact that allowing fathers to spend time with his child and his wife during their most cherished occurences will make him a father in the long run, and not just any money-making machine.

Many broken families’ children often say, “If I had a father, we could have been more financially sound.” Is that all? Is that the only thing he/she misses about the father? Well, we cannot blame the children. We need to blame the system. A father too can play with his children, cuddle them and make them feel the warmth of their relationship, if given an opportunity. If a child is forced to witness a father leaving home early morning and returning back completely exhausted only to fall asleep, we cannot really blame the child if he/she calls him a money provider. Paternity leave gives men an opportunity to develop a stronger bond with the child from birth and also with the wife, who gets to have a husband around. This is extremely essential for an all round development of the family and maintaining its healthy partnership.

The period enables the husband-wife to understand the changes in their lives as a couple, and as parents. The greatest example is Sweden, where this initiative has brought in excellent response. Divorce and separation have decreased in Sweden, while it has increased throughout the world.

Many psychologists as well as sexologists say that having the fathers-to-be in the labour room is more beneficial and logical than keeping the new mother with a swarm of women huddled around. Being a father is a huge responsibility, and paternity leave allows the father to realize its worth. A husband might need to take his pregnant wife for yoga classes and a father will have to change the diaper and cuddle with his newborn. It is all part of an all round physical and emotional development.

We are progressing well with science, technology and awareness. Then why is it that we fail to break certain taboos that have been illogically surviving since time unknown? If people are made aware, and they start considering a company without a leave procedure as backdated and conservative, companies will soon be forced into accepting the process.

Its high time for us to discuss the notion of it being a myth, accept it as reality and break away from such conservative social taboos!