Virat Kohli’s paternity leave and subsequent absence from the upcoming Test series has reopened the discussion on paternity leaves in India. The 32-year-old cricketer has availed of paternity leave to be with wife Anushka Sharma. The couple is expecting their first child in January next year.
The cricketer's decision of availing paternity leave has earned both praise and criticism from fans. While some commended him for being with his wife during such an important time of their life, others have said he is in “dereliction of national duty” as he is leaving an important series against Australia.
Virat's decision has reignited the debate regarding paternity leave in India as unlike maternity leave, there is no law governing leave for fathers in India.
A Paternity Benefit Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2017. The bill, which emphasises upon equal parental benefits for both parents, proposes that all workers, including those in the unorganised and private sector, can avail paternity leave of 15 days, extendable up to three months. However, the bill has not yet been passed by the Parliament.
The government made provisions for paternity leave for all public sector employees in 1999 through the Central Civil Services (Leave) Rule 551 (A). This allows any male central government employee with less than two children to avail a 15-day paternity leave. It can be either 15 days before or within six months from the date of delivery of child.
There is no provision on paternity leave in Indian labour law for private sector workers. The civil servants (Central Government) however are entitled to paternity leave. Workers on paternity leave are paid their leave salary equal to the pay drawn immediately before proceeding on leave.
However, many companies have started offering Paternity leave in the last few years. There is no set time duration for the leave in corporate India. Public sector employees get 15-day paternity leave and many companies have adopted the same model.
Meanwhile, Tech giants including Facebook, Deloitte and Microsoft are offering their employees 17, 16 and 12 weeks of paternity leave, respectively. In 2015, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg declared that he would be availing a two-month paternity leave.
Last year, food delivering app Zomato made waves after rolling out a 26-week paternity leave for its employees. This is among the highest duration of paternity leaves in India. Yet, India remains among the 90 out of the 187 countries in the world that do not have national policies for paternity leaves.