Standard Chartered Bank has taken a significant step towards inclusivity by announcing a 20-week paternity and adoption leave for its employees worldwide. This progressive move ensures that the leave benefit is available to all employees, regardless of gender, relationship status, or the circumstances surrounding the child’s adoption.
Starting from September 1, this new human resources policy reflects the bank’s commitment to fostering an inclusive work culture. It aims to provide employees with the support they need to balance their personal lives while pursuing successful careers.
Shivshanker S V, the Head of HR for India and South Asia at Standard Chartered, emphasized the positive impact of such benefits on addressing societal norms and encouraging shared childcare responsibilities. He highlighted that this move would enhance families’ financial well-being and contribute to a more inclusive workplace.
It’s important to note that while paternity and adoption leave has been extended to 20 weeks, maternity benefits for biological mothers will remain at 26 weeks, in compliance with statutory requirements.
Tanuj Kapilashrami, the Group Head of HR at Standard Chartered, expressed the organization’s commitment to introducing progressive benefits that promote inclusion, enhance the employee experience, and facilitate colleagues in realizing their full potential.
In India, maternity benefits have traditionally been governed by the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. However, this legislation did not originally extend maternity benefits to adoptive mothers. It was only through a 2017 amendment known as the Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act, 2017, that such provisions were introduced.
The 2017 amendment not only extended the duration of maternity leave for biological mothers but also incorporated provisions for adoptive mothers. It increased maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks for biological mothers. Additionally, it introduced Section 5(4), which granted 12 weeks of maternity benefit to surrogate or adoptive mothers who legally adopted a child under three months of age.
However, it’s worth noting that women adopting children older than three months are not entitled to maternity leave under the current legal framework.
Regarding paternity leave, Rule 43-A provides for paternity leave of up to 15 days for male employees with fewer than two surviving children. This leave can be availed during their wife’s confinement for childbirth or within six months of the child’s delivery.
Furthermore, the Paternity Benefit Bill, 2017, proposed to provide fathers, working in all sectors, including private and unorganized sectors, with 15 days of fully paid paternity leave. Out of these 15 days, up to seven days could be taken preceding the expected date of pregnancy. The bill also aimed to extend similar benefits to adoptive parents.
In summary, Standard Chartered’s decision to offer 20-week paternity and adoption leave reflects a commitment to creating an inclusive workplace where employees can better balance their personal and professional lives, irrespective of gender or family circumstances. This move aligns with evolving legal frameworks related to maternity and paternity benefits in India.