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Parental Leave

Parental leave is extended time off from work for new parents to care for and bond with their newborn or newly adopted child.

Are you expecting a new addition to your family soon? As an Indian parent-to-be, understanding your rights and benefits around parental leave is crucial. However, with complex policies and sparse information, navigating parental leave in India can be challenging.

Did you know that over 25 million women in the Indian workforce were eligible for maternity benefits under the Maternity Benefits Act in 2016? With more and more women in the workforce, parental leave has become an important factor impacting career and family planning.

This comprehensive guide will provide you with a complete overview of parental leave policies in India – from types of leave to pay, planning, and legal rights. Whether you are an expectant mother or father, an adoptive parent or planning to start a family, this guide will equip you to make the most of your parental leave.

What is Parental Leave?

Parental leave refers to extended time off from work that is available to new parents for the birth or adoption of a child. It allows both mothers and fathers to take paid or unpaid leave from their jobs to take care of and bond with their newborn or newly adopted child.

Parental leave policies and eligibility vary widely around the world. Many countries mandate paid parental leave by law to support work-life balance for parents. The duration of leave, pay, job protection and flexibility also differ.

Parental leave aims to promote child and maternal health, gender equality, and work-life balance as well as long-term economic benefits for families and society. It is an important employee benefit and labour law provision in most developed economies.

What are the types of parental leave available in India?

India offers several types of job-protected leave for new parents, including maternity, paternity and adoption leave. Understanding the differences is key to planning your parental leave. India offers three main types of leave for new parents:

  • Maternity leave – Paid leave of up to 26 weeks granted to biological mothers. This can be taken up to 8 weeks before the expected delivery date.
  • Paternity leave – Most companies offer paid paternity leave of 1-2 weeks for biological fathers. This is usually taken right after the birth of the child.
  • Adoption leave – For adoptive parents, maternity leave of 12 weeks is provided to the mother, while most companies also offer 1-2 weeks of adoption leave to the father.

Who is eligible for parental leave in India?

Who is entitled to take parental leave in India? Let’s look at the eligibility conditions you must meet to qualify for maternity, paternity or adoption leave benefits. To be eligible for parental leave in India:

  • You must have worked at your organization for at least 80 days in the past year. Part-time and contractual employees are also entitled to leave benefits.
  • Leave can only be claimed for up to two children.
  • Leave benefits may vary based on your company’s internal policies. Always check with your HR department.

What pay and benefits can I expect during parental leave?

Will you receive full pay during maternity or paternity leave? What other benefits can you expect as a new parent? This section explains the compensation and benefits provided during leave.

  • For maternity leave, companies must provide full pay for the first 26 weeks, as per the Maternity Benefits Act.
  • Most companies offer paternity leave and adoption leave on a full pay basis as well, but this may vary.
  • You continue to be entitled to all benefits like insurance and accrual of annual leaves.
  • Some companies provide flexibility in extending unpaid leave beyond the stipulated period.

How should I plan and inform my employer about taking parental leave?

Taking parental leave involves careful planning and coordination with your employer. How much advance notice must you provide? How should you plan the handover of your work? 

Here are some tips for planning and informing your employer about taking parental leave:

  • Give advance notice – Inform your employer as early as possible, ideally at least 3-4 months in advance. This gives them time to plan workload adjustments.
  • Understand the policy – Review your company leave policy and consult HR to clarify any doubts on eligibility and pay.
  • Discuss dates – Based on your expected delivery date, discuss the leave start and end dates with your manager. Account for holidays, and peak work periods.
  • Plan handovers – Make a plan to handover your ongoing work, projects and responsibilities to colleagues who can cover in your absence.
  • Prepare transition docs – Create transition documents like status reports, contact lists, and how-to guides to help your stand-in get up to speed.
  • Schedule weekly check-ins – Offer to make yourself available for quick weekly check-ins/handholding during the initial transition period and as needed.
  • Send handover emails – Email key stakeholders like clients, vendors, and team members about your leave and contact details for the stand-in.
  • Set up auto-replies – Turn on auto-reply emails and forward calls to notify people of your absence and alternative contacts.
  • Submit forms to HR – Submit required application forms for leave to HR at least 1-2 months prior to the start of leave.
  • Stay in touch – Keep your manager updated on any changes in plans and your expected return date.
  • Plan return – Discuss return-to-work options like flexi-hours, and work from home with your employer in advance.

Parental leave for new parents is protected by law in India. What are your rights and what recourse do you have in case of disputes? Here are the key legal rights and provisions for parental leave in India:

  • Maternity Benefit Act – This Maternity Act legally mandates 26 weeks of paid maternity leave for all women who have worked 80+ days in the last 12 months.
  • Maternity leave pay – Full pay must be provided for the first 26 weeks of maternity leave as per law. This is based on your last drawn salary.
  • Paternity leave – Most companies provide 1-2 weeks of paid paternity leave as per their internal policy. This is not legally mandatory.
  • Adoption leave – Adoptive mothers are entitled to 12 weeks of paid leave. Many companies offer 1-2 weeks of paid adoption leave for fathers.
  • Two-child limit – Parental leave can only be claimed for up to two children.
  • Miscarriage – Leave of 6 weeks is provided even in case of miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy.
  • Work protection – Your job position is protected during the sanctioned period of leave.
  • No discrimination – Employers cannot discriminate against women in terms of hiring, pay or promotion due to maternity needs.
  • Complaints – You can file a complaint with the labour department in case of any disputes regarding parental leave pay or benefits.
  • Flexible work – Request flexible work hours or work-from-home options from your employer if required.

Conclusion:

Starting a family is an intense yet rewarding experience. While parental leave benefits in India have become more progressive, gaps remain compared to many other countries worldwide. As an employee, being aware of your rights, planning carefully, and maintaining open communication with your employer will enable you to optimize this special time with your newborn.

Remember – parental leave is an important employee benefit, not just a privilege. With adequate information and proactive planning, you can ensure your leave experience is smooth and financially secure and lets you focus on your expanded family. This will also ease your return to work when your leave ends.

As you embark on your journey into parenthood, we hope this guide gives you a strong foundation to understand and plan your parental leave in India. Stay informed, seek clarity and enjoy this blissful phase making happy memories with your little one!

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