Maternity leave is not a paid holiday. From what little a mother would remember of the crazy days immediately after the birth of a child, definitely missing the workplace is not a memory. A few weeks and a couple of months later? Still no. The body needs time to heal and adjust. The mind is coming to terms with so many changes, fighting new fears with new joys. While we may fight for equal rights and equal pay and what not, why are we trying to pretend that childbirth is a game of equals between men and women. What is the bravado in showing that you are able to come back to the same work desk that you were sitting at 2-3 weeks back. Of course you know your job, of course you are still good at it and of course the corporate won’t come crashing down in your absence. Assuming you have a choice.
On the same day two ends of the spectrum were on display.
Yahoo CEO showed that perhaps job security is always a top concern especially if you are the top boss of a struggling company. She declared that like her previous childbirth, she would approach the birth of her twins similarly – ‘taking limited time away and working throughout.’ That sets the tone for expectations at her company better than any internal diversity newsletter ever could! She could have said, ‘I choose to do this but Yahoo values and stands by its maternity leave policy and every new mom is welcome to take xx weeks off and every new father has xx weeks off.’ Maybe she thought that’s assumed….
Meanwhile, in a land far far away, there was some cheer to this whole debate. India has many corporates encouraging and practicing 4 to 6 months of paid maternity leave and the government is proposing to increase the mandated leave from the existing 3 months to 8 months. Many corporates are also enhancing paternity leave, adoption leave and post-maternity work from home options.
These are the positive signs needed. Our signal to the next generation of to-be-moms must be that while procreation is an option, it is recognised as a phase in life needing differential treatment at the workplace. Performance evaluations, back-fills in the team, remote work options – everything must align itself to this. It will also certainly ease the pressure on various support systems of a working mom.
The flip side? While more corporates are creating positive policy, read here about how few actually take it up.
Next growing concern – Geriatric care leave. See if you can find an employee that doesn’t have a dependent, ageing or ailing parent or relative. That’s for another day.
(p.s. And that day came here!)
Maternity Policy Updates
Positive signals are slow emerging, in the public and private sector!