The Centre has not only increased maternity leave but has also cleared paid leave for two years to take care of children. The order has come into effect from Monday, Sep 1, 2008.
The increased maternity leave of women employees has been increased from 135 days to 180 days for each of their two children.
From now on, women employees can take paid leave up to two years (730 days) during their career for 'taking care' of their two children without affecting their seniority.
Even if a woman has only one child, she can take the two-year leave. Termed as 'child care leave', this will be besides the maternity break they are entitled to.
A woman employee can also avail of child care leave in any combination till her two children are 18 years of age. In line with the Sixth Pay Commission proposals, the new leave regime for women means that during their stint with the government, they can avail paid leave of as much as three years, provided they do it only for two children.
The child care leave can be taken for any of reason, including 'rearing' or 'to look after any of their needs like examination, sickness etc'. Women in the private sector are often hard-pressed for such leave beyond the maternity break (rarely beyond 90 days), besides the regular quota of earned, casual and medical leaves.
"The new rule has come as a godsend. I can now devote time to my son when he needs it the most. The best part is I can take this leave till he is 18," said a director-level IAS officer.
Contrast it with what a senior corporate executive said, "I attended office up to two days before my child was born. I had to save as much of my 90-day maternity leave so that I could devote time to my child later. The entire period is over now and I am back to work. I now leave my baby at my mother's house and come to office."
The government has notified that child care leave can also be availed in continuation of the six-month maternity break. It means that a woman employee deciding to have only one child can continue on paid leave for two-and-a-half years at a stretch.
Of course, she has the option of saving some of it for exigencies and, above all, she continues to enjoy her share of the regular leaves.
The new regime will definitely make government jobs much more attractive not only for women but also for men as the couple would be assured that at least the mother would be with the child when needed.
Semi-government establishments like PSUs, banks, insurance companies should be expected to adopt the new women-friendly system sooner or later.