Women child care leave

News Excerpt: 

Recently, The Supreme Court ruled that participation of women in the workforce is a constitutional right, and denying mothers childcare leave violates this right. 

Background of the case:

  • The woman had approached the state seeking child care leave as her son is suffering from Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a rare genetic disorder, and had undergone several surgeries. 
    • Due to his continuous treatment, she had exhausted all her sanctioned leave. 
    • But her application was declined on account of non-adoption of the provision of child care leave — as provided under Rule 43-C of the Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 1972 — by the state government.
  • The woman moved the High Court, which dismissed her plea on April 23, 2021, on the ground that the state has not adopted Rule 43 (C).
  • Appealing against the verdict, the woman in her plea in the Supreme Court, contended that the selective adoption of the rules by the state is against the spirit of concept of a welfare state, Constitution and India's obligation under various international conventions on women and child rights.

Supreme Court judgment:

  • A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and J B Pardiwala was hearing a plea by a woman, an assistant professor in the Government College, Nalagarh, who said the Himachal Pradesh government had denied her child care leave to attend to her child who is suffering from a genetic condition.
    • Participation of women in the workforce is a matter not just of privilege but a constitutional entitlement protected by Article 15 of the Constitution. 
    • The state as a model employer cannot be oblivious to the special concerns which arise in the case of women who are part of the workforce.
  • The provision of child care leave to women sub-serves an important constitutional objective of ensuring that women are not deprived of their due participation as members of the workforce. 
    • Otherwise, in the absence of provision for child care leave, a mother may be constrained to leave the workforce.
  • The court said it is “conscious of the fact that ultimately the petition does trench on certain aspects of policy”, and added, “equally the policies of the state must be synchronous with constitutional safeguards”.
  • SC direction to Himachal Pradesh
    • SC said the state of Himachal Pradesh must be directed to consider the entire aspect of the grant of child care leave to mothers, including making special provisions consistent with the Right to Persons With Disabilities (RPWD) Act to mothers with children with special needs.
    • The court asked the state chief secretary to constitute a committee consisting of the state commissioner appointed under the RPWD Act, secretary of Women and Child Department and secretary of Social Welfare Department to look into all aspects of the matter. 
      • It directed that the panel’s report be placed before competent authorities so that a policy decision is taken expeditiously.

Types of leave:

  • Maternity leave for female employees:- Maternity leave is a mandatory employee benefit in India that enables first and second-time mothers to take leave for 26 weeks.
  • Paternity leave for male employees:- Paternity leave allows new fathers to take care of their newborns, but unlike maternity leave, there's no formal policy or law in India that mandates this type of leave for employees working in the private sector. 
  • Sick leave:- Sick leave, as the name suggests, encourages employees to stay at home to rest and recover when they are unwell or injured. 
    • Most organizations in India provide a minimum of 12 sick leaves to their employees, and all 12 leaves are credited at the beginning of the year.
  • Casual (planned) leave:- Casual leave, also known as planned leave, enables employees to take regular vacations and manage responsibilities like attending parent-teacher conferences and participating in important events without losing their pay.
  • Earned (privileged) leave:- Earned leave, also called privileged leave, is a special type of leave that employees earn for working a specific number of days. 
    • The amount of earned leave that an employee is entitled to receive depends on the region. 
    • Unlike sick and casual leaves, employees can accumulate and carry earned leave into the next year.

Other leave types:- Here are some other common leave types that are not mandated by any leave law, but some organizations provide them as an added benefit:

  • Marriage leave:- For employees getting married, most organizations offer a minimum of three days to a maximum of two weeks. 
    • The exact number of marriage leaves differs from organization to organization.
  • Compensatory leave:- Certain organizations encourage employees to take leave on weekdays whenever they work overtime, or on non-working days like weekends and holidays.
  • Loss-of-pay leave:- Some organizations allow employees to take leave even after they have exhausted their leave balance, but they don't pay them for those leave days. Such leaves without pay are called loss-of-pay or LOP leaves.

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