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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New maternity leave in India with no mention of adoption

Department of Personnel (of Ministry of Personnel, public grievances and pensions) of India has issued a circular detailing new ‘Child Care Leave” for the women employees in the government. Two important features of this new directive are as follows:

First, the maternity leave is extended from it’s existing 135 days to 180 days (6 months) and secondly women employee is entitled to a life time leave of two years to care for her children below the age of 18.

You may be aware that there’s a separate directive called ‘Child Adoption Leave’ to allow time off (up to 135 days) to women employees of adoptive families and in this new directive there’s no mention of adoptive families. If his new directive is only applicable to biological families, there’s a clear evidence of bias against the adoptive families.

As much as I argue in favor of allowing a mother to care for her children when in need, this new directive I am afraid is excessive and could easily lead to gender bias and abuse. Maternity leave is meant for the family to bond and care for the child but allowing women only to avail such a benefit, the government is implicitly stereotyping women as child care takers. This also ignores the constructive role a father could play in the care of a child.

What about the single fathers? Why are they being left out? I suggest that the wording “Women” must be replaced with “Parent” to allow anyone in the family to avail such a benefit to care for the child.

Click here to view the ‘Child Care Leave’ directive

Click here to view the “Child Adoption Leave” directive


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