Mom’s the word: 50 things corporate India can do for new working mothers

A paid maternity leave is just not enough.
A paid maternity leave is just not enough.
Image: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
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1. Fully paid maternity leave. This leave could be for 12 weeks or more, depending on the prevailing local regulations or company best practice policies.

2. Performance rating for new and entrant mothers will not be affected by their absence from work during maternity.

  • If maternity has been availed, post mid-year, then the mid-year rating will hold good, unless a strong case is presented for a downgrade during ATR’s
  • Low performance rating can be awarded only if there’s ample documented evidence of non-performance
  • Women returning from maternity leave post mid-year can be treated like a new joiner since he/she hasn’t had the scope to demonstrate performance (this implies an average rating performance)

3. Active support from the team manager or business leader, to organize the workload of expectant mothers going on maternity leave, while ensuring continued performance of the team in their absence.

4. Performance appraisal guidelines from CEO and HR must clearly communicate that maternity, long leave and special leaves are given appropriate ratings, and should be transparently communicated and implemented across the organization.

5. “On-ramping” of women employees who return from maternity—re-skilling and re-integrating as a key priority to engage them back to work.

6. Flexi-time work policies for new and entrant mothers during for the first year of their return from maternity. This can be equally applied by manufacturing, finance, banking, IT-related, pharma, hospitality, telecommunications—and all sectors of the economy.

7. Options to work from home during maternity—especially if this is part of the medical advise to expectant mothers.

8. Engage or assign a mentor/“buddy” to the new mothers when they come back—preferably, a lady who has returned from maternity leave in the last one year and has got back to normal office work

9. Mass career customization for women who return from maternity—dial-up and dial-down of work timings and performance measures.

10. Gender sensitization and awareness training programs for other employees and managers.

11. Specific “work initiatives” for mothers resuming work, which can be done through women’s and diversity networks.

12. Grievance Redressal Council—especially for women employees who have resumed post maternity.

13. Re-orientation program:

  • For bringing the employees on LWP/maternity leave up to speed regarding the changes/updates in various policy and process (if any)
  • Creating a conducive work environment to help the associate ease back into her work-related responsibilities more efficiently
  • Aiding through a structured program, the re-orientation of such associates

14. Special performance management policy for women returning from maternity leave. This policy ensures that women who are returning from maternity leave or childcare leave would have their final performance band calculated based on all available performance ratings during the year.

15. A leave-without-pay policy and a progressive childcare policy, which enables employees to avail of leaves when they are required the most.

16. Congratulatory triggers should be sent to those who have applied for maternity and paternity leave. This practice is usually very well received and has tremendous emotive appeal.

17. Full time day care centers—as on-campus or as link-ups with external day care centres.

18. Creating a maternity resting room for pregnant women and new mothers on the company premises.

19. Healthy food counters for expectant mothers.

20. A “Stay Connected Program” for women on maternity leave via email and intra-company online programs—to ensure that associates on long leave continue to be updated with the latest happenings, receive news, and information bytes—in the comfort of their personal email boxes on a monthly basis that help them keep updated

21. “Workplace Parents Group” should be formed across various centers to engage working parents through child psychology and parenting workshops. These groups bring working parents together to discuss common problems and look for solutions

22. Extendable maternity leave—maternity leave (paid) is for 12 weeks. A woman suffering from illness arising out of pregnancy, delivery, or premature birth of child, miscarriage, medical termination of pregnancy or tubectomy is entitled to an additional paid leave for a maximum period of one month upon providing the required supporting medical documents

23. Special transport allowance for expecting mothers—vehicle drop to their residence escorted by armed security guard.

24. In-house 24/7 gymnasium and doctors on campus.

25. Crèche on campus.

26. TOS (time off scheme) to encourage work life balance is in place.

27. During prenatal, post natal and finally resuming back,

  • No docking of compensation is done.
  • Maternity or paternity leave does not affect associate’s eligibility for ESOP

28. Exception handling in terms of transport, dress code.

29. Health advisory committee to which gives health tips.

30. Maternity treatment at cashless hospitals.

31. Domiciliary and consulting services available on campus.

32. Complaint mechanism for redressal of grievances.

33. Congratulations-maternity leave benefit

34. Return to work policy for new mothers: Women can decide their date of return to work as per the doctors advise and discussion with their HR managers. Their employment status with the company is not affected in any way by their maternity leave

35. Special car parking reservation for new and experienced mothers.

36. Mother’s resting and feeding room.

37. Personal felicitations for new mothers returning to work.

38. On site rejuvenation lounge—for new and entrant mothers.

39. Maternity coaching is an opportunity.

40. All female employees who are returning from maternity leave get an option to work at a reduced schedule of 50% of the normal weekly hours per week, for a two-month transition period immediately following the maternity leave.

41. Job sharing between two women—as an option for reducing the workload for new mothers.

42. Voluntary reduced work hours after motherhood.

43. Part time employment: Employees reduce their workload and consequently their hours decrease to fewer than standard workweek requirements. Part-time employees work between 20–30 hours per week with a corresponding reduction in pay and adjustment of benefits.

44. Sabbatical leave as an extension of maternity leave.

45. Transfers/re-location made easy for spouses and married women.

46. Promote internal networking platforms for women—where they can chat, and share their experiences, and challenges.

47. Concierge services—in India and globally during travel for work and business meetings.

48. Ombudsperson policy: Employees can raise an integrity concern to the ombudsperson through various channels and immediate investigation is done and appropriate action taken. An employee can also raise a concern anonymously by dropping a note at the ombuds boxes placed across locations

49. 24-hour convenience store—tied up with grocery stores where the employees can place all their grocery orders online and the orders will be delivered to them in office each Friday. This helps them focus on work and personal life and leave the other odds to tie up in office.

50. Provide lightweight laptops and cellphone to new mothers, so that they are easy to carry to work.

Excerpted with permission from Bloomsbury India from the book, Leadership by Proxy: The Story of Women in Corporate India, authored by Poonam Barua. We welcome your comments at