Paternity Benefit Bill: The Gender We Talk About, The Benefit We Don’t

Amidst all the expectations around the male gender since his birth, there is secretly an expectation which every spouse hopes for. Time has developed since the only job of the male co-partner remained until the “sperm fertilised the egg”. The couples grow in love as they call themselves ‘pregnant’ and not just the technical one. The change in the ideologies was very well understood by the law presenters of the country. The idea to give chances to the father to be able to be completely devote to the upbringing of his junior. The benefits to be able to not lose work, not to miss deadlines but to be able to absorb the presence of a new member in the family.

‘Paternity Benefit Bill’ made rounds in the corner of the Parliament in 2017 with a view to benefit the fathers to oblige to their parental duties. It stated to give all workers, including men in the unorganised and private sector, to be benefitted with a paternity leave of fifteen days which could be extended up to three months.

The bill introduced stated for the employees to receive payment at the same rate as the average daily wage or even so, on a minimum rate of wage as revised. The same could be availed from an organisation if he had already served not less than eighty days in the last twelve months immediately preceding the delivery date of the child. However, the clauses require fathers with only less than two surviving children to opt for the same.

The gender benefits do not end here as the bill further stated to introduce proper guidelines in order to provide benefits to every man. A crucial affair that the bill brought was the Parental Scheme Benefit Fund. Under this, the government would create a fund specifically for purposes of paternity benefits where employers irrespective of genders would contribute. It was to meet the costs which would be induced through the availing of the particular benefit and the loss of work. Not to forget to mention on how the bill boldly announces that on death of the man during the following tenure, the nominee has rights of receiving payments till the end of it.

The beauty of the bill is not restricted to the birth fathers. The Bill allows the adoptive father of a child below three months of age or the legal husband of a mother in the cause, to be given the same benefits.

The objective of the bill is to ensure to the mother gets constant support in the process. It is not only through looking after the child together but when the father gets time with the child, the mother gets a chance to resume her work. Usually during the commissioning period, the mother develops a distant connection with her work until her child grows to handle himself. Such an act of love unfortunately also throws the woman out of the race of the market. Her positions degrade after she resumes and the restoration is more often than not, impossible. The option of choosing between the newborn and the profession is unjust and the bill certainly helps the attain the goal.

Through the bill, the perception of gender roles gets on hold. It creates an aura of gender equality at home. The shifts of looking after the child when divided among the two parents can lead to none of them having major deviations from their works to only allow the emotions of seeing their child grow into a form of their own reflection.  

Despite the benefits kept in front, a lot of issues persisted to not allow the bill to go further. The Maternity Benefit Act shifts the entire financial burden on the employers and through an introduction of system which would allow funds, the work place might discourage the driving force of the other objectives of women employment. Furthermore, the Paternity Bill necessitates to be extended to all sectors whereas the Maternity Act has only limited applications. It creates inequality, not only with the Maternity Benefit Act but also with the fact that the objective of the Paternity Bill is not merely paternal benefits but also equal opportunities to both the genders.

However, this creation of inequality is amendable.There can be similar benefits to both the parents and if it requires anything urgently, it is the mindset to evolve that both of it can co-exist.