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In a first major step towards breaking gender stereotypes, Deutsche Bank India has finally succeeded in delinking parental leave policies from gender. From 1st January 2017, the bank will offer same quantum of parental leave—parental leave policies for childcare in India—6 months of leave to male employees as well, if they happen to be primary caregivers.

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This new leave policy is being rolled out across all offices in Asia Pacific. An internal note that was circulated among all employees in the region stated that the new parental leave policy focuses on the responsibility of new parents or caregivers rather than tie up the parental leave to gender. This move obviously replaces what was earlier termed as maternity leave policies. It also covers surrogacy and adoption and aligns it with parental leave entitlements. The note stated that, “Deutsche Bank employees who are new parents can choose to either be the primary caregiver or the non-primary caregiver within the duration of the parental leave”.

The main caregiver or the one who takes primary responsibility for caring his/her child during the bank’s typical work hours is eligible for the leave. The policy is expected to provide greater flexibility and choice for parents to take care of their newborn or adopted child alongside with their work life.

It is usually assumed that the woman or the mother is the primary caregiver since she gives birth to the child. But, of late, there has been a trend of men partaking in childcare responsibilities. In the words of Madhvi Lall, HR Head, India, Deutsche Bank, “The new policy will fight several unconscious biases that are prevalent in society”.

Regarding the policy, Lall further said that, if a male employee happens to be a primary caregiver, he can now avail up to six-months of leave, after giving an official declaration regarding the same. If an employee’s wife is required to return to work in three months after childbirth and the husband (DB employee) becomes the primary caregiver for the child, he can avail of the new parental leave benefits.

Similarly, the primary caregiver concept in cases involving surrogacy and adoption would also be applicable to men now. Lall said the practices currently used to onboard women resuming work post maternity will also be applicable for men when they return to work post childcare/parental leave. In June 2016, Deutsche Bank India had revised its maternity leave policies from 16 weeks to 26 weeks (inclusive of public holidays and non-working days), while paternity leave was revised from 5 to 10 working days.

On the other hand, employees who are non-primary caregivers can continue to take 10 working days paid leave after the birth of their child or adoption of a child below 7 years of age.

It can be said that Deutsche Bank India’s policy changes towards parental leave is a step ahead in the overall leave policies practiced by corporates in India. Other corporate organizations should also try and imbibe certain ideals from Deutsche Bank India.

Source: The Economic Times

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