Article: Paternity leave: For the greater good

#Culture

Paternity leave: For the greater good

It is about time organizations worldwide empathetically think about what it means to be a father and stretch their hands benevolently to help their male workforce become better care-givers
Paternity leave: For the greater good

Sweden was the first country to realize the importance of paternity leave. Organizations in the country implemented paternal leaves in 1974. However, only 6% of fathers availed the leaves. The Swedish government as a result introduced one month of paid paternity leaves and warned fathers that if they did not take a time-off, they’d lose their one month’s subsidies. As a result, fathers used their paternal leave to spend time with their newborns. This practice significantly reduced the number of divorces and separation.

Last Friday, Facebook announced that employees can now avail parental leave policy globally. The new policy will be in effect starting 1st January 2016. Global employees of Facebook can avail up to four months of paid parental leaves. The tech-giant’s CEO personally endorsed paternity leave by announcing his plans to take a 2 month time-off post the birth of his daughter. 

Silicon Valley companies, who were earlier known to have an un-family culture, are now switching to family friendly policies. Many of tech-giants have been in a bad light their stringent and hostile policies which made the organizations seem like unsympathetic employers. A good example would be Amazon Inc. who had been in the news for its ruthless work culture. Earlier last month, Amazon Inc disclosed that it will implement its paternity leave policy wherein new fathers will be allowed to take a paid leave for 6 weeks. The e-commerce behemoth will soon join the list of tech giants, Google who provide this benefit. Under the latest leave policy, Amazon has increased the paid-leave time for new mothers from 12 weeks to 20 weeks increasing the maternity leave by 40%. The new policies were crafted as a result of several employee surveys which hinted the organization to show compassion towards staff in order to retain employees and attract new talent. Full-time employees who have been a part of Amazon for at least a year are eligible to avail the paid parental leaves. The company also said that the male employees who are the primary care-givers for their child will be allowed to work part-time for up to eight weeks on their return. 

Companies in India need to think empathetically in order to provide work-life balance to their employees. If need be, every country’s government should step in, just how the Swedish Government did, to enforce this much-needed cultural shift. A handful of the Indian organizations have taken small steps in the direction - Godrej extended its paternity leave to 10 days from 5 for new fathers earlier this year. Padmaja Alaganandan, leader of PwC's people and change practice spoke to Economic Times on the matter “We're beginning to see small steps being undertaken in companies aimed at encouraging male employees to shoulder responsibilities at home. This will not only help in changing mindsets internally, but will also contribute to the broader corporate ecosystem.” Organizations need to understand that taking care of their employees familial needs is as important is taking care of the employee. 

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Topics: #Culture, Employee Engagement, Benefits & Rewards

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