How should HR’s manage the new 26 weeks of maternity leave to balance workforce
The 26 weeks of paid leave from work for Moms-to-be and 12 weeks for New moms if they adopt a baby has been a sensible and necessary move that the government has made to empower our women. But in spite of welcoming this move wholeheartedly many corporates at the back of their minds are still haunted by the fact that this move may be an expensive proposition.
This policy is not just a breakthrough in women’s empowerment. It allows women to create a healthy work life balance early in life. Although this policy is aimed at encouraging women to join and stay in the workforce, the major reason is also political because with this policy India is now in the league of nations such as Israel, Ireland and the UK that grant 26 weeks and more of paid leave to new mothers.
Before we go any further here are a few detailed insights of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017.
● The policy applies only to organised labour and for companies that employ 10 or more workers.
● Only about 1.8 million working women will actually benefit from this policy.
● Mandatory for every establishment with fifty or more employees to have the facility of creche within a prescribed distance.
● The employer is also bound to allow four visits a day to the creche by a woman.
● Maternity leave of 12 weeks for a woman who adopts a child below the age of three months, and for commissioning mother (a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in any other woman).
● The entitlement of 26 weeks paid leave under the law is only for first two children
● A woman with more than two children will be entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave
Now the pressing point here is that Millions of other women who work in the unorganised sector, or are self-employed are left beyond the benefits of this policy.
But, that’s not all. Coming back to the organizations that fall under the radar of this policy, we might see a negative trend.
There is expected to be a downfall in Hiring women, this policy could cast a very negative impact in new corporate hiring reason being that, it could substantially raise a company’s operating costs, as an employer will now be obligated to pay a hefty 6 months’ salary to an employee, and additionally hire and pay an interim candidate to take over the job role till the employee returns. This will double the cost for companies who will now evade recruiting new female candidates or promoting the existing ones.
Another aspect to this issue is the need for Comeback Assistance, there is a very strong need to address the challenges an employee might face post her return to work that is after six months. There could be multiple changes that have taken place both within the organisation and in their job scenario. The employee would require handholding, mentorship and guidance to cope up and get back into routine.
Plan work allotment
Maternity leaves are usually planned and this can allow companies to plan work allotment in advance. The employee going on leave can spend time handing over work responsibilities to a colleague this way there would be no intern hiring or training costs.
Operations outsourcing companies in India have become a lot more efficient, cost effective and can offer a variety of work solutions while working within stipulated timelines, be it main operations or non-business critical processes like backend support or overseas project management, outsourcing companies can come in really handy in these situations.