Article (November-2016)


TREND - India Inc. on rise in paternity leaves: Mercer Survey


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Despite the complexities involved with legislation for parental leave, organizations are making the benefit available to their workforce. According to Mercer's new Global Parental Leave report, 38% of companies globally provide paid paternity leave above the statutory minimum and several countries mandate a parental leave program that may be used by either parent. In Asia Pacific itself, 41% of the companies provide paid paternity leave above the statutory minimum to their employees with India being among the top ten countries with the highest percentage of companies providing paternity and adoption leaves above the statutory requirement in the world.

Kangan Shekhar, India Benefits Product Head, Mercer says "Paternity leave in India has been gaining prevalence over the last few years; we have seen the percentage of organizations providing this benefit rise from about 60% in 2014 to 75% in 2016. While the number of days provided have remained fairly consistent over the years at five days, many more organizations are allowing employees to avail the leave from the date of joining."

In fact, there has been a significant shift in the attitudes of companies towards paternity leave. According to Mercer's 2016 Global Parental Leave report, 42% of companies worldwide of companies encourage their employees to take paternity leave.

As employers review their parental leave policies in an effort to better align organizational objectives with the needs of a changing workforce, many are offering time off to parents of adopted children. Adoption leave, similar to paternity leave, is becoming more prevalent, especially as the definition of families continues to progress to include same-sex parents. According to Mercer's 2016 Global Parental Leave report, more than one-quarter (29%) of companies worldwide provide adoption leave beyond what is required by law, India being amongst the top ten countries globally doing so.

Furthermore, when asked how they handle adoption leave for same-sex couples, 87% of companies indicate the leave is handled in the same manner as opposite-sex couples.

"Adoption leave in India, like paternity leave has gained prevalence over the last few years with the percentage of organizations providing this benefit increasing from 33% in 2014 to 43% in 2016. While most organizations provide 45 days as adoption leave to female employees, a few organizations provide the same entitlement as Maternity leave, which is 90 days. Additionally, many companies are also extending adoption leave benefits to male employees indicating the increased importance of parental leave policies," added Kangan.

    As the definition of families continues to evolve, more organizations are expanding leave policies to include fathers, part-time employees and caregivers of parents to help ensure inclusivity among their workforce. While almost two-thirds (64%) of companies worldwide provide maternity leave for only the birth mother, 24% of companies provide this leave to the primary caregiver - regardless of gender. 

As the provisions of parental leave policies expand beyond traditional maternity leave, some employers have chosen to implement a global policy. There are many considerations involved with instituting a global leave policy. Besides addressing governmental and state legislation, policies need to accommodate a changing workforce, be generous yet cost-effective, and avoid unintended consequences, such as discouraging women from returning to the workforce or offering leave to fathers when taking it could be viewed negatively. 
According to Mercer's 2016 Global Parental Leave report, slightly more than one-third (36%) of the companies surveyed worldwide have a global parental leave policy covering multiple types of leave. Among companies with a global policy, 19% cover all four types of leave -- maternity, paternity, adoption and parental. Moreover, of the two-thirds of companies that do not have a global policy, 12% are considering implementing one in the future. Furthermore, organizations are expanding their parental leave policies to accommodate the needs of their workforce. As a result, they are considering "non-traditional" types of 

leave that include parental leave for part-time employees; support programs for parents, employees, and managers; time off, separate from sick leave, to recover from miscarriage; and time away to care for family members.

Family care leave is time off (paid or unpaid) for employees to care for their loved ones, including children, spouses, parents, parents-in-law, or siblings. According to Mercer's 2016 Global Parental Leave report, two-thirds (67%) of companies worldwide provide family care leave to their employees. The length of leave is typically a few days fully paid, although some countries allow for an extended period of unpaid leave. While this practice is highest in Europe, Middle East and Africa and lowest in Asia Pacific, globally, the family members that are most frequently covered by a family care leave policy are children (97%).

"Work-life balance has emerged over the years as an important aspect of the employee value proposition. Given the demographic profile of Indian employees, and the increased focus on women in the workforce, leave and particularly the different types of parental leave have become key to the rewards policies of organizations, "says Ms. Shanthi Naresh, India Business Leader - Talent Consulting and Information Solutions, Mercer.