By Arré Bench Oct. 27, 2020
Male government employees bringing up a child alone are now entitled to child care leave for a total of 730 days, something that was generally granted only to women. This is a significant change in our parental policies but why should it only be restricted to single parents?
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.
Male govt employees now entitled for child care leave
— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) October 26, 2020
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.
“Single male parent” included employees who were unmarried or widower or divorcee and might therefore be expected to take up the responsibility of caring for a child single-handedly, Jitendra Singh said https://t.co/YPVCbIR26n
— The Hindu (@the_hindu) October 27, 2020
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.
Decision to grant Child Care Leave to single male parent working in Government of India is a landmark measure by DoPT. My heartiest congratulations to PM @narendramodi Ji & @DrJitendraSingh Ji for reinforcing GOI’s commitment towards gender equality. https://t.co/316dZcIu8T
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) October 27, 2020
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.
Union minister @DrJitendraSingh has announced child care leave for single parent male government employees. The order was passed earlier but the minister has said that not many people were aware about it. This is a much needed welcome move by the government. @BJP4India
— Ritu Gupta (@RituDreams) October 27, 2020
This is a good initiative. https://t.co/coH9RlucB6
— Happymon Jacob (@HappymonJacob) October 27, 2020
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?
Very welcome that GoI now permits "single male parent" to avail of Child Care Leave. However, only the absence of a woman seems a likely condition for men to "care" for the state. Yet admittedly, an improvement. Amrita Nandy& I wrote about this in 2017. https://t.co/1wQRUe3P3A
— Sneha Banerjee (@BanerjeeSne) October 27, 2020
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.