Virat Kohli skips Australia Test Series, takes paternity leave for birth of his firstborn with Anushka Sharma, triggers and inspires fans. Know the laws for paternity leave in India
While some lauded Virat Kohli for being such a wonderful and supportive husband to Anushka Sharma, others thought he needs to perform his duty to his nation and be at the Test series, some even drawing comparisons between him and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who didn’t take any paternity leave for the birth of his daughter, Ziva.Updated: Nov 19, 2020, 16:51 IST
When Virat Kohli decided to take paternity leave - for the birth of his first child with actor Anushka Sharma - after playing the first test in the Down Under series and returned to India from Australia, he made his absence felt in the Test series. This opened up many debates and discussions about paternity leaves in India, how it is still unexpected and somewhat frowned upon, if not taboo. BCCI’s press release confirmed the news, stating, “(Virat) Kohli had informed the BCCI about his plans to return India after the first Test in Adelaide. The BCCI granted the paternity leave to the Indian captain and he will return after Adelaide’s first test series.” The 32-year-old Indian team captain, who is expecting the birth of his first child in January of next year, received equal amounts of praise and flak from his fans. While some lauded him for being such a wonderful and supportive husband, others thought he needs to perform his duty to his nation and be at the Test series, some even drawing comparisons between him and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who didn’t take any paternity leave for the birth of his daughter, Ziva.
Virat’s decision to back out of such an important series led to a lot of debate regarding his absence as well as the fact that there are no provisions or laws for paternity leave in India.
Paternity Benefit Bill 2017
And although in 2017, a Paternity Benefit Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha, it is yet to be passed by the Parliament. The Bill, which was backed by Congress MP Rajeev Satav, emphasised that there should be equal benefits and responsibilities on both parents. In a statement, Rajeev Satav had then said, “Child care is the joint responsibility of both parents. They must devote time to the newborn to ensure its proper well-being.” The bill proposed that workers from organized as well as unorganized sectors can avail paternity leave for 15 days, but can extend up to 3 months.
The Bill also states that, “The maximum period for which any man with less than two surviving children shall be entitled to paternity benefit shall be fifteen days of which more than seven days shall precede the date of expected delivery. Provided that paternity benefit shall be availed up to three months from the date of delivery of child.” The Bill also intended to extend these benefits to adoptive fathers as well as those who have had children through surrogates.
Provisions for Central Government employees, employees of private sector
However, employees in the public sector as well as civil servants (working under the Central Government) do have provisions for paternity leave. In 1999, as per a notification under the Central Civil Services (Leave) Rule 551 (A), any male central government employee who has lesser than two children can get up to 15-days paternity leave. This can be availed anytime between 15 days to six months before or within the date of the child’s birth. During the course of the leave, the employee will get paid leave salary equal to the pay last drawn immediately before he went on leave, this is also applicable under conditions of adoption.
When it comes to Indian labour law for private sector employees, there is no provision for paternity leave. However, several companies have made provisions in the past few years and have generally adopted the same model, in terms of pay and duration, as that provided to public sector employees. Corporate giants like Facebook, Deloitte and Microsoft offer their employees 17, 16 and 12 weeks of paternity leave, respectively. In fact, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself had taken two-month paternity leave in 2015. But it is Zomato, the food delivering app, that has the highest duration for paternity leaves (in India), with employees getting as long as 26 weeks to take care of their wife and child. In 2017, Rajeev Satav had said that the proposed Paternity Benefit Bill would benefit more than 32 crore men in the private and unorganised sector, especially those doing blue collar jobs. However, India remains to be one of 90 nations (out of the 187 countries in the world) that does not have any national policies for paternity leaves.