Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has said that she really doesn't see the point in bringing a law which mandates paternity leave since men in India are likely to use it as a holiday instead of taking care of their children.
In light of the recent move to increase maternity leave from the existing 12 weeks to 26, women rights activists and parliamentarians have called for the government to consider paternity leave so that men do their bit in raising infants, and to break the prevalent notion that taking care of children is first and foremost the mother's responsibility.
"Paternity leave can be considered only if, once the woman goes back to work after her 26 weeks of leave, we find that men are availing their sick leave for a month to take care of the child. Let me see how many men do that. I will be happy to give it but for a man, it will be just a holiday, he won't do anything," Gandhi told the newspaper.
"If men gave me one iota of hope by taking sick leave for child care, then yes, we can think of mooting a proposal for paternity leave," she said.
Earlier this month, Rajya Sabha passed a bill to provide for 26 weeks of leave to working mothers in the formal sector, but it still leaves out millions in the unorganized sector. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 would become law once it is passed by the Lok Sabha in the Winter Session of Parliament.
While there is no legal requirement for the private sector to give paternity leave, The Indian Express noted that under the Central Civil Services Leave Rules, men in government service, can take 15 days of paid leave, which they are allowed to merge with any other leave.
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