Zomato has recently announced a new, more inclusive parental leave policy, taking into account not only dads, but also surrogate, adoptive, and same sex parents.
As a new mom about a decade ago, I had to forego full time work and start exploring work from home options because of the completely non-existent child care in most working spaces then and no long paid parental leave.
Hundreds of women like me make that difficult transition to working less, earning less and being confined by parenthood especially during the first few months/years of childbirth primarily because they are the ones who breastfeed the newborns.
In addition family precedents, societal norms and government policies all seem to be in unison in promoting women only as primary nurturers and almost force most parents (mostly moms) to take such difficult step back. This is also exploitative towards fathers too as even when they are willing to share the burden of early years of parenting their workspaces do not facilitate that.
However things have certainly improved in the last decade; I do see crèches now even in government buildings like the courts where parents can avail child care and also companies and institutions now offer longer and paid parental leave as is the norm in many first world nations, especially the Nordic countries.
Maternity leave was first introduced in erstwhile Soviet Russia on November 27, 1917 a month after the famous October Revolution by workers. Russian working mothers since then receive 140 days of paid maternity leave, which they can even avail 70 days before the expected delivery of the child.
Iran provides six months of paid maternity leave. Many African countries offer up to 14-25 weeks of paid leave. In the United States the federal government has no paid family leave policy, however several progressive modern companies like Netflix provide a full year of paid maternity leave. The retail giant Amazon has gone a step ahead and offers paid parental leave to even spouses.
As per Indian laws maternity leave of 26 weeks is mandatory across all organisations in India. However, there is no similar paternity leave and also no such clearly defined parental leave policy for everyone including non-birthing parents and same sex partners.
The technical difference also to be understood is that maternity leave is only for biological mothers. They can avail this while they are pregnant and after the birth of the baby. Parental leave can be availed by them after the maternity leave and might include the other parent and non-birthing parents in some countries.
Recently Zomato, the online restaurant discovery service, has made some changes to their parental leave policy . Deepinder Goyal, their founder said:
“For women across the globe (we have teams in 13 countries as we speak), we will be offering 26 weeks paid leave, or will follow the government mandated policy, whichever is more. We will be offering exactly the same benefits to men as well. There won’t be even an iota of difference in parental leave policy for men and women at Zomato going forward.”
What is further commendable about this announcement is that at Zomato this policy shall also apply to non-birthing parents, as in cases of parenthood via surrogacy, adoption, and also most importantly same-sex partners.
These benefits can be availed by Zomans who have had a child within the last 6 months, the blog post added.
This new policy is not just a welcome move because of its huge inclusiveness but because it also keeps under consideration the financial burden of a young family, and in addition to the flexibility it also promises an endowment of $1000, per child, at the arrival of every new born.
As Deepinder Goyal impressively announced – “We will never have truly gender-neutral organisations unless we have gender-neutral communities and gender-neutral nations.” Let us hope more and more companies, institutions and governments make policy changes to make child-rearing an equal and shared responsibility.
Image source: shutterstock
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Pooja Priyamvada is a columnist, professional translator and an online content and Social Media consultant.
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