One of the most high-profile European banks has some good news for Asian fathers.
Deutsche Bank has reformed its parental leave policy, making it “gender neutral” across 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. This means that now both its male and female employees are entitled to the same amount of childcare leave if they choose to be primary caregivers. The German bank began offering six months of maternity leave in India in June and its new policy extends this benefit to fathers, too, starting from Jan. 01, 2017.
“The new parental leave policy centers on the caregiver’s responsibility, rather than tie parental leave to gender, and replaces what was previously called maternity or paternity leave,” the company spokesperson in India told Quartz. The policy also offers surrogacy and adoption leave.
But the policy only applies to those employees who identify as primary caregivers for their children; those who don’t can only take up to 10 working days off after the birth of their child or the adoption of a child under the age of seven.
The move is a big step up from the bank’s earlier offer of ten days off for new dads in the country. Along with Vietnam, India now has the longest childcare leave for men across Deutsche Bank outposts in the Asia-Pacific region.
And that’s good news for women, too, since it will help shift some of the burden of childcare, which often acts as an obstacle to career growth. India’s female work force participation rate is among the lowest in the world, having declined since the 1990s. In 2014, the rate was just 27%.
“The new policy will fight several unconscious biases that are prevalent in society. If a male employee happens to be the primary caregiver, he can now give a self-declaration and avail up to six months of parental leave. If an employee’s wife is required to return to work in three months after childbirth, and the husband (a DB employee) becomes the primary caregiver for the child, he can avail of the new parental leave benefits,” Madhavi Lall, head of human resources at Deutsche Bank India, told The Times Of India newspaper.