Maternity benefits to retain mid-level executives

13 Oct, 2016
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An article in DNA, talks about recent Maternity Benefits Bill being passed; along with inputs from Rituparna Chakraborty.

Radhika Pendse, head of communications at a top telecom company, is a happy mother. She can nurse her seven-month old baby while finishing work from home. She travels to her office twice a week if necessary but tends to stay put in her home-turned-study from where she monitors her nanny.

Not everyone is as lucky as Pendse. Currently, most women stop working after the birth of a baby or turn nervous mothers/workers having to stay away from them for a long period of time. Fortunately, the government seems to have taken the issue into consideration as the Maternity Benefits Bill passed by the Rajya Sabha increased maternity leave to 26 weeks from 12 weeks for women working in private firms. The policy also says that in industries where it is possible, nursing mothers should be allowed to work from home. After the Bill turns into a law, most mothers will be as happy as Pendse.

Experts say that this will standardize the way maternity is handled in most organizations. "Three months is not adequate for most working mothers to stabilize and generally request for an extension. Some companies consent and others do not. In some cases, they are paid and in others they are not. But this will bring in standards," says Rituparna Chakraborty, Senior VP at Teamlease Services.

Companies gain too

A survey on gender diversity by Teamlease services, 22% of women said that managing maternity leaves and their return is key to ensure gender equality in the organizations. As per the survey, 72% of women are aware of an existing gender bias in the organization they work for.

Apart from creating a conducive environment, companies have much to gain by retaining this group of employees who constitute mid-level executives. Most women who would hail maternity benefits are in the age group of 28 and have at least seven to eight years of experience. The need for such executives in an organization is high. The cost and efforts of head-hunting and hiring such executives is high, along with the necessary training.

"The costs of providing the benefits will be offset in a healthy way in the form of retention and stability," informs Dr Moorthy Uppaluri, MD and CEO of Randstad India.

Uppaluri says that companies should also plan for the change of work after they come back to work. "In most cases, the role that she was holding will be given away or she would have to join at a different position. Such changes have to be planned ahead to ensure their career growth leading to building a pipeline of women leaders in the future," he advises.

Women in workforce

The participation of women in the workforce is as low as 20% currently and increasing these numbers will have a profound effect on the industry and the nation. According to a McKinsey's The Power Of Parity report, "India could add $700 billion of additional GDP in 2025, upping the country's annual GDP growth by 1.4 percentage points," if it matches the momentum towards gender parity.

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This article was published in DNA: https://goo.gl/ObxEoa

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