Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Entitled maternity leave?

There is talk of amending the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 to increase the period of paid maternity leave for women working in any public or private enterprise from 12-weeks to six months.

But when the majority of women in the country are either self employed, or work in the unorganised sector, would that really help combat the problem of infantile malnutrition as it is supposed to?

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6 comments:

Cruella Collett said...

Wow - this made me realize what a great country I live in. We have 12 months paid maternity leave here, public and private enterprise alike. We also have some time (I think maybe a month, but I forget) compulsory paternity leave, though this is (unfortunately) still taken advantage of (for instance, used for a family vacation instead of a father-child bonding period).

What do women do after those 12 weeks - go on an unpaid leave or are most kids in daycares etc from 3 months of age?

As for the specific problem you're addressing I agree it's a paradox. It does seem like one of those cases where the new legislation largely would help those who already have the means to help themselves (my guess is that many of the self-employed women have a harder time taking any time off than most of the employed ones. I might be projecting from what's typical here, though).

Carnimire said...

12 months paid maternity leave -that seems like such a dream!!!

Normally, we manage to extend the maternity leave by a couple of weeks by resorting to accumulated leave that we had not taken, try to max sick leave (normally at half pay), but few are able to drag that on for more than six months.

Luckily, for most, there is the Great Indian Joint Family and the Great Indian Extended Family. Parents typically live with kids (or kids with parents), so there is always a grandmother or two and maybe even a few unwed aunts who take on the load of childcare.

Labour is relatively cheap, so most people also manage to get a full time maid for the child. The maid in many cases being a 12 or 13 year old child.

And families that cannot afford that, just take older girls out of school and put them to work looking after siblings and cousins.

Sad state of affairs, but that is the way it is :-(

Galen Kindley--Author said...

As a sixty year old white male with no children…I’ve never had to face this issue, or really even think about. However, I’d guess any change that’s favorable…as this appears to be…is good.

However, I’m wondering, isn’t the bigger problem that women don’t work professionally outside the home…If I’m reading what you’ve written correctly. I’m pretty sure (understatement for effect) humanity discovered long ago that women have much to contribute to the professional, outside the home workforce. Why aren’t they there???

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Watery Tart said...

I think the length of leave a country offers is an indication of how much a country values children and families. The US people legally get 12 weeks, but it DOESN'T have to be paid--it's strictly a guarantee that you can get your job back.

The paradox in my mind is that longer leave is an enticement for employers to not hire women they think might have babies (which we DON'T want) but there HAS to be something---I know France also has a year paid leave.

You're absolutely right that required benefits don't apply to self-employed or under the table employed, but i would hope making the child and family more highly valued at least trickles a little bit to those other domains.

And as an option: I have an Australian friend who was paid BY THE GOVERNMENT to provide child care for 2 other moms, so those moms got a MOM to care for their children, and she got to be an at home mom (something that presumably helped all 3 families)--i felt like that was a creative solution that really worked.

Carnimire said...

@Galen - a proportion of women in the Indian workforce is much much higher than one would presume. But it is rarely in the organised sector, and mostly part-time, which is why they end up staying under the radar. And they do not get any paid maternity leave.

@Hart - I totally agree with you. A nation's attitude towards maternity leave does indicate how evolved the nation is on the social scale. And we fall far far behind. Not only do we not get paid maternity leave, very few organisations even give what I would call a guarantee of getting the job back. As for part-timing and flexi timing, or official child-care - what's that?
In any case, all maternity benefits are restricted only to two children (adoptive or biological) in India- I see no reason why we cannot then be more flexible.

AMIT said...

You have raised a good question.

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