HYDERABAD: Even as the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016, passed in the Rajya Sabha recently and yet to be discussed in the Lower House, seeks to increase the leave for mothers from 12 to 26 weeks, a few companies in the city have a system that surpasses the bill.
ValueLabs, a global business technology services and solutions company with close to 1,200 women employed across the globe, is well ahead of the curve, boasts Ram Manjeri, senior vice president. “In January 2016, we extended the maternity leave provision to six months. Beyond this, employees can also exercise flexible work options, that include work from home,” he informs.
Another IT MNC located in the city, CA Technologies, is an equal opportunity employer, says Asrar Haq, senior team leader, IT. They too have extended their maternity leave policy from three months to six.
“The company policy also allows women to work from home for three months after that. We plan to extend it further very soon,” added Asrar.
What about fathers?
Extension of paternity leave that is currently five days was also a point of discussion. Asrar agrees it is indeed a big moment for the family and CA Technologies has also extended this to 10 days. He also feels it is beneficial for the family. “They can always avail more leaves in case they need it. It is not just about the father being there with the family, but also support for the mother,” he said.
Diana Monteiro, a city-based counselling psychologist expressed happiness that the extension has been made. She said that it is the exact amount of time the child needs to be with the mother. “The first six months it is absolutely necessary for the child to have mother’s milk.
Emotionally too, the mother and the child need each other,” she said. But, in case of provision of paternity leave, it is more to do with how much society expects from a father, she pointed out.
“Traditionally, it is believed that the child depends on the mother. People advise the mother to sleep when the child sleeps. That is impossible,” she added.
However, a CEO of a leading cement company in the city, wishing to remain anonymous, feels that we need to slow down. “I think the general leave system has enough for the fathers. It should suffice. And for this to actually come into play, a cultural shift has to happen. I feel maternity leave is a necessity, but paternity leave can be planned in advance.
There is no guarantee that a man will share the load for sure,” he said. The leave system is such that it has enough provisions for the fathers to accumulate and use them at the right time, he added.
Suresh Reddy also feels that there is no clear time frame for how much time the fathers might need. “It could be a day or much more in case of health complications. Hence, we cannot yet generalise on this aspect,” he said.