Gender neutral parental leave - Pros and Cons
When India is competing and debating on whether to opt for an extended maternity leave for mothers or paternity leave for fathers, the global world is all in favor of a new gender neutral parental leave. According to this, new parents, regardless of their gender are entitled to get a 26 weeks paid parental leave.
Earlier we saw how Maneka Gandhi sacked the idea of paternity leave for men with the mere excuse that they will use the leave as mere holidays. Now there is talk about extending the maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. While this is good for mothers, it can have adverse effects too.Pros1. Equality:
Both the parents are equally excited for the new one. The woman does take the pain in the process but that shouldn’t make fathers any less important. They too have the right to get that time to bond with the newborn and take care of the family which is in immediate need of the man of the house. When we are hailing for equality, we must not forget that men have certain rights too.2. Lesser stress:
With the availability of both of the parents during the crucial days of a newborn, family extended planning will not be as stressful as it is at the moment. Women are left with the option to quit work entirely. When they make the sacrifice for the dear ones, they are left with the feeling of being the only one who has to compromise on her dreams.3. Employers would be unbiased:
Extending the maternity leave of the new mothers from 12 weeks to 26 weeks would be a welcome move but that would make the employers biased towards hiring women in the reproductive age. They wouldn’t want to risk facing too much loss in the form of paid leave. They are most likely to hire more men than women.4. Growth prospects:
If women alone are entitled to the extended paid leave, it might become an excuse for fewer promotions for women compared to men. Gender biased paternity leave would ensure that there is no biasness in men and women employees when it comes to job security and growth prospects. They will both be judged on same grounds.5. Better productivity:
Ensuring that both the parents are entitled to paternity leave would give women ample time to heal and participate back in their work rather than considering to opt out of employment altogether. This would improve the living standards of people and the productivity of the companies would also not get hindered in between. Companies could share the cost of paid gender neutral paternity leave with the government to ease the process.Cons1. Increasing cost of the companies:
Providing paid parental leave of 26 weeks to both the parents is a huge decision, especially for startup companies that might not be able to handle the cost that comes with less productivity for the time that follows. There will be huge imbroglio as HR strives to find out whether the prospective employee is in the reproductive age before hiring to ensure that they will be ready to bear the burden.2. Less productivity:
When you are on paid leave and that too for such an extended period of time, your employer will be in a serious dilemma. He is bound to face shortage of workforce and he might not be in a position to hire extra people to fill the space while you take care of your little one at home or perhaps catch football matches. Productivity is bound to decrease in the process.3. Gandhi is not wrong after all:
The fact that men are bound to misuse the time of paid leave by simply treating it them as holidays. The reason why women are given maternity leave is because they need time to heal and take care of the little one. The same cannot be same for men. They do not need to recover from the fact that the little one keeps him up on night.4. Finance will suffer:
Even when the leave is a paid one, there are certain drawbacks on being on a long period of leave. It lessens your chances of growth and promotions. The same is known for women but since mothers have no other choice, it is understandable. With both the partners risking their job development, it will become more difficult to take care of the needs of the extended family.
Gender neutral parental leave does have its advantages, especially when it comes to rescuing the bias against women at the workplace. But it does have its drawbacks too. Not everyone is in the same suitable position of life to sacrifice work life and stay at home for 26 weeks, while putting promotions and growth prospects at risk. An optional parental leave might perhaps be the solution.