Male Govt Employees to Get Child Care Leave if Single Parents. But Why Not All Men?

Social Commentary

Male Govt Employees to Get Child Care Leave if Single Parents. But Why Not All Men?

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

The concept of paternity leave is a fully realised one in Scandinavian nations like Sweden, but India lags behind the world leaders in recognising the importance of fathers staying home to help with raising an infant. Though Indian employers might not have the best track record on granting paternity leave, that might soon change, as the largest employer in the country, the government, has announced that male employees raising a child as a single-parent will be entitled to Child Care Leave of up to two years during their service in a reform aimed at improving the ease-of-living for government servants.

The new changes to the regulations were announced by Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Tuesday, October 27. “It is a path-breaking and progressive reform which will bring ease of living for government servants. The orders regarding this had been issued quite some time back but somehow did not receive enough circulation in the public,” Singh said.

Now, single male government employees can avail CCL for a total of 730 days, something that was generally granted only to women employees. The definition of single male parent includes those who are unmarried, widowers, or divorcees. The employees availing of this leave would be entitled to 100 per cent salary in the first year and 80 per cent salary in the second.

The move by the government to grant men similar parenting leaves that are granted to women is a progressive and welcome one. As part of the reforms, Singh also announced that parents of disabled children can avail child care leave even after their child grows older than 22 years of age, which was the earlier limit for parents of disabled children. For the most part, social media users hailed it as a positive development.

However, it raises a pertinent question: Why should only the absence of a woman be the condition for a man to be responsible for child care?

Our parental policies have been largely sexist and while it may be some time yet before we see a culture of “latte papas” that has emerged in Sweden, this move toward granting fair paternity leave is a step in the right direction.