Birth of an idea: PSU banks introduce paternity leave

Aparna Ramalingam, TNN | Jun 6, 2015, 02.12AM IST

 CHENNAI: A long queue outside your teller counter on Monday morning may not help matters especially after you spend two sleepless nights over the weekend attending to your newborn.

Well, there is a solution in sight - paternity leave seems to be gaining acceptance among employers. A recent wage settlement signed between the Indian Banks' Association and bank unions provides paternity leave entitlement to male executives. "All subordinate employees, clerical employees, officers will be eligible for 15 days of leave before the due date of the spouse or up to six months post delivery," general secretary of the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) C H Venkatachalam said.However, this entitlement can be availed for two children only. Also, such leave can be clubbed with paid leave but not casual leave. An employee working in a nationalized bank gets 30 days of paid leave every year which can be accumulated up to 270 days.

 Already, central government employees in India are entitled to paternity leave which is similar to what can be availed of by public sector bank employees now. The paternity leave benefit has come into force from June 1 and is expected to benefit around two lakh male executives in the 20 to 35 age bracket working in various nationalized banks across the country.

Paternity leave has been a long pending demand of banking employees. "With average age of staff in public sector banks coming down on account of good recruitment policies in recent years, this is a good welfare scheme to keep employees happy," executive director of Central Bank of India BK Divakara said.

 Also, as competition intensifies in the Indian banking sector with licenses for new banks such as payment banks and small finance banks to be issued in August, the poaching of experienced hands from the nationalized pool is imminent. Industry experts feel talent retention in government sector should be strengthened and that paternity leave is one tool in the armoury to do so.

"Many nationalized banks have lost good talent to private banks in the past. So by formalizing paternity leave, the IBA and the unions have given recognition to paternity role and responsibilities," Ashok Reddy managing director of TeamLease, a recruitment consultancy said. Unlike maternity leave which is usually used up for rest and recuperation, time taken off during paternity leave can be utilized effectively to put a support system in place for the newborn.

"Ultimately, a stable support system back home would also result in enhanced productivity at the workplace," Reddy said.

 In any case, paternity leave is a norm abroad in the US and Europe. "Fathers working in such regions can avail of paternity leave ranging from 10 to 15 days. As services sector is getting increasingly competitive, both private and public sector organizations are looking at offering various retention tools to employees," Sunil Goel, managing director of Global Hunt,  said.

However, experts also warn that there should be careful monitoring of paternity leave, especially in a governmental set-up where a pile-up is common. "Leave synchronization should be aligned with the work responsibility and role," Goel added.