Corporate India is ahead of the curve vis a vis the country’s paternity leave laws.
While the laws almost exclusively concern themselves with new mothers, companies have been doing their bit to ensure that men get days off, too, making India one of the world’s best countries for new dads.
Today, 75% of Indian organisations provide paternity leave, according to a report by human resources consultancy Mercer. This figure has increased from about 60% in 2014. That makes India among the five countries—after the US, Australia, the UK, and Canada—with the highest shares of companies that grant paternity leave above the statutory requirement.
Mercer’s report was based on a global survey polling over 250 private companies in India.
The survey results are particularly important because India’s paternity leave policy has for long focused only on the public sector, requiring those companies to provide up to 15 days off, but setting no obligation for private companies. While the maternity leave provision was recently extended to over six months, there’s no sign of things changing for new fathers.
Nevertheless, Indian companies are taking the lead. Organisations are starting to become more sensitive to the needs of their employees, offering better benefits, including both paternity leave and days off for parents who adopt children, according to Kangan Shekhar, Mercer’s India benefits product head.
“Overall, companies are developing (a) higher EQ (emotional quotient),” Shekhar said. India’s talent crunch is encouraging firms to do more to retain their best employees for whom work-life balance is becoming an increasingly important concern, she noted.
Though it is technology companies that mainly get all the press for their generous leave policies, paternity leave is on offer across sectors in India. Even the more mature industries are on board, suggesting that times really are changing, with more acceptance of a father’s role in child-rearing.
The only problem: the number of the days of paternity leave hasn’t changed in most companies from around five days. However, with increasing awareness about the benefits of such leave, for both fathers and mothers, it’s high time India’s laws did more to reflect the new reality.