This holiday season brings great news for some of the working professionals who may be contemplating a family plan amidst their busy work-life. Although various organisations lately improvised on their parental leave policies, a few organisations have extended their policies beyond just maternity or paternity leave to include adoption and childcare leave, with equal importance to men and women
In one such tremendously employee-friendly policy, Accenture recently announced that it will provide a leave of 22 weeks, irrespective of whether the child is biological, adopted or born through surrogacy. Accenture earlier provided an adoption leave of eight weeks.
According to a recent survey by Working Mother and AVTAR, 70 per cent of the companies offer paid leave to adoptive mothers. Among these, the most adoption-friendly are IT majors, banks, insurers, FMCG players, automotive and chemical companies. While some companies choose to give parents as much as 28 weeks of leave, some others provide only a week, said the study.
In addition, international banks, such as Standard Chartered, Citibank and Barclays, who choose to give 28–22 weeks leave, also have a liberal adoption policy, globally. Keeping in mind the millennial population that consists of heterosexual couples, who want to adopt, couples in live-in relationships, same-sex couples and the rising population of single dads, such policies are proving quite beneficial to organisations and employees.
Similarly, at Mondelez India, adoptive mothers get three months’ leave versus six months’ maternity leave. But the company is offering a 15-month flexi work option for all new parents, irrespective of whether they choose to adopt or in case of natural birth
On the other hand, breaking the gender stereotypes in considering parental leave and keeping in mind the concept of the ‘primary caregiver’, companies are also trying to accommodate different employee needs. In an interesting recent movement, Deutsche Bank (DB) has delinked parental leave from gender. From 1 January , it will offer the same kind of childcare leave — maternity leave of six months in India — to men as well, if they happen to be primary caregivers.
The new leave policy will be applicable to employees across the Asia Pacific. The policy has been designed keeping in mind the caregiver's responsibility, rather than just relating it to gender. Hence, the leave also covers adoption or surrogacy. The employees have the flexibility to choose to be the primary caregiver or the non-primary caregiver within the duration of parental leave.
It is usually assumed that the woman/mother is the primary caregiver since she gives birth to the child. But there is a growing trend of men contributing equally in childcare responsibilities. With such new policies, if a woman employee is required to return to work in three months after childbirth, the husband can take over as the primary caregiver availing the benefits of such a policy.
Interestingly, DB India had revised its maternity leave from 16 weeks to 26 weeks and paternity leave from five working days to ten, in June this year itself. And now comes a more enhanced and mature version of the diversity boosting employee-friendly parental leave policy.