Philips India has recently revised its paternity leave policy allowing eligible fathers to take a paid leave of eight weeks. By doing so, the Company indicates its intentions to build an inclusive culture at the workplace.
“The burden of taking care of the child was entirely falling on women alone, and we can’t talk about equality at work when we are not promoting equality at home.”
Earlier, it allowed ten days of paternity leave, which did not really portray an idea of gender equality at the workplace. “We thought that a ten-day paternity leave does not give a sense of equality in raising a child,” says Armaan Seth, head-HR, Indian Subcontinent, Philips.
Seth also adds, “We have been talking about building the most inclusive culture in the organisation and inclusiveness does not mean doing things for one section. It is about creating equality.”
Through this initiative, the Company intends to lessen the burden of mothers in taking care of the child and provide flexibility to fathers. “The burden of taking care of the child was entirely falling on women alone, and we can’t talk about equality at work when we are not promoting equality at home,” Seth opines.
Taking such a big step comes with its own challenges and hurdles. The biggest challenge the Company may face is to ensure that productivity is not affected. With employees going on long leaves, the overall productivity is put to risk.
To overcome this problem, the management decided not to make the two-month leave mandatory to be availed immediately after the child is born. “We have given flexibility to our male employees to choose when and in how many parts they want to take this leave over a span of two years,” Seth explains.
This means that employees can flexibly choose the time period for their leave. People can take a leave of two weeks, one week or three days in a stipulated time frame of two years, over and above the stipulated holidays.
Generally, an infant needs the mother more than the father, in the initial few months. Father plays a limited role in that duration and mothers have the leverage of taking a six-month maternity leave, post which they need more support from the father. Hence, the need for the father arises when the mother rejoins work after six months. This is the time when wives want their husbands to chip in the most. This way, the policy at Philips not only allows men the flexibility to avail the leave, it also lessens the probability of people staying away from work for long durations at a stretch.
“Every family has different needs. Some people may need that leave right at the beginning if there are any complications, some may need it when the wife resumes work and some may require it when the child starts going to play school. Why should we decide that a one size policy fits all?,” says Seth.
The revised paternity leave policy of the Company is a perfect example of balancing employees’ interests as well as the Company’s interests at the same time.
The employees are happy with the decision. With more than 7000 employees in India, out which 62 per cent are millennials, there is a feeling of joy and happiness amongst all levels of people. In fact, both men and women have shown a positive response to this move.