21 November 2011
By Debashis Konar
The Mamata Banerjee government is planning to introduce a two–year child care leave for women staffers, so that working mothers can devote more time to their children, especially when the children are ill or need assistance during examinations. The state government is also considering options of adoptive leave to be given to women employees who opt for adoption.
Proposal for child care leave has already been sent to the finance department for its clearance, so that women employees can avail of the facility from this year. Once the government clears this proposal, working mothers can get a leave of 730 days. The leave can either be availed of at a stretch or in intervals.
The state government is also considering ways of providing an increased maternity leave to women employees, as enjoyed by central government employees. While the Centre has increased the maternity leave from 135 days to 180 days, that for state government employees is 120 days. State officials are contemplating to raise the leave to 140 days.
An official of the finance department said that there are around 30,000 women employees in the state including those working in the government, government–aided organizations, schools and panchayats. If the child care leave is to be provided, then it should cover all categories of staff, he said.
The officer said that a woman employee is entitled to the 730–day leave during the entire period of her service, for taking care of a maximum of two children. The leave can be availed till the children turn 18 and can be used if the child falls sick or needs the mother’s assistance for preparing for an examination. –During the period of such leave, the women staffer shall be getting salary equal to what she used to draw immediately before going on leave,” the officer said.
However, prior to this new rule being implemented, state officials are examining the central order issued following the recommendation of the Sixth Central Pay Commission that led to the introduction of this child care leave.
A central service officer who had recently availed of this leave at the time of her daughter’s illness clarified that the leave can be taken thrice in a year and can be taken in spells. –But this leave should not be less than 15 days. In case of emergency like sickness of child, approval for proceedings on the leave can be sought later. But if one wants leave for the child’s examination, a prior sanction is required,” the officer added.
Sociologist Ruby Sain said, –If child care leave is granted then it will be of immense help to working mothers.” She felt that adoptive mothers too should be granted leave for adoption. This will enable more working women to adopt babies.
Dalia Chakaraborty, head of sociology department, Jadavpur University, said that the move will be very useful for working mothers. –Working mothers face trouble during the early years of their children and there is no institutional support. There are instances of JU teachers getting full maternity leave for adopting babies. This should be followed by the state government,” said Dalia.