While some progressive Indian companies have taken the initiative to introduce paternity schemes for new fathers, or even at times, expecting fathers; these schemes are nonetheless few and far between. Apart from the obvious advantages of Paternity Leave such as a well-balanced household, it is also considered a method for organizations to bring about equality in the workspace. There are however several problems faced, with regard to the implementation of paternity leave provisions. These include instances where men refrain from availing such leave due to socio-cultural pressures. Several countries have amended their laws to ensure better compliance and efficacy of such provisions. At present, there exist several different models of paternity leave based on the peculiarities of each country and the objective behind the legislation.
This paper explores certain material themes surrounding the introduction and implementation of a ‘Paternity Benefit’ scheme in India. Part I examines the prevailing features of paternity leave in India. It elucidates the need for a broader paternity leave scheme in India and, argues that the absence of such a provision reinforces traditional caregiving models and socially constructed gender norms leading to bias and discrimination towards both sexes. It analyses the effects of the scheme as an instrument to bridge workplace inequalities within the country and its function as a tool to enhance family and child development. Part II contrasts the existing domestic framework against accepted international standards; and undertakes a review of domestic legal norms of different jurisdictions. It further identifies three distinct models of paternity leave that have been adopted across the world. Part III analyses the concept in light of India’s unique socio-economic conditions, and identifies the most suitable model of paternity leave. The focus will be placed on the urban Indian population, working within the organized sector as the target beneficiaries of such a scheme.