More and more businesses are trying to project themselves as responsible organisations not only to attract customers but also to retain employees, and maternity and paternity benefits is one such step in this direction, according to experts.
After Bengaluru-based Flipkart revamped its maternity leave policy to 24 weeks in July 2015, a number of companies like Mondelez India Foods, formerly Cadbury India, Mumbai-based real estate developer K Raheja Corp, App-based fashion retailer Myntra have restructured their parent policies with many innovative additions.
"We understand and appreciate that a little extra support goes a long way in ensuring employees are well prepared for this new phase which can be both exhilarating and demanding at the same time. Consequently, the existing maternity policy was revamped and a New Parents Policy was introduced in April 2015", Mondelez India Foods Director-Human Resources, R Mahalakshmi told PTI in Mumbai.
The 'New Parents Policy', she said, goes beyond mandatory maternity leave and has been refurbished taking into consideration the fact that male colleagues also need to shoulder responsibilities and chores. Besides adequate time away from work at six months for new mothers, flexi-work timings, paternity leave for new fathers, the company's 'New Parent Policy' also covers alternative forms of parenthood (adoption, surrogacy), she said.
Similarly, K Raheja Corp also announced 'Adoption Assistance policy' that includes paternity leave for adoptive and biological fathers. "We strive to be an employer of choice and offer the best organisational culture - one that is an excellent balance between home and work. It is important hence to ensure our policies are both career building as well as family-friendly.
"We have handpicked our policies from the best across industries to ensure it is in keeping with the times and the need of our employees", K Raheja's Senior Vice President - Human Resource, Urvi Aradhya said. She said the 'Adoption Assistance Policy' introduced in September 2015, is a company-sponsored policy that financially assists employees and provides paid leave for the adoption of maximum two children.
Executive search company GlobalHunt Managing Director Sunil Goel opined that new age businesses are very competitive in nature and most of the global organisations want to project themselves as responsible businesses and efforts are not only to attract the external customers, but also to retain employees. Adequate importance has been given to motivate and retain internal employees as it has been always observed that retained and sustained employees are much more productive in long term, Goel said.
"Global companies also have a mandate to increase the gender diversity at lateral and leadership level wherein it is still below 25 per cent. Now maternity and paternity benefits are not being looked at from compliance perspective only, but are seen more as a retention and benefit component", he said.
New age businesses which will introduce these benefits are E-commerce, banking, ITES, health care, technology and professional services consulting organisations. Brick and mortars like automotive, power and energy, infrastructure may take longer time as their combination of resource pool is both skilled and semi-skilled, he said.
"At employee end, new parent and maternity benefits have created a positive impact, but it can't be the only motivation. Since now many organisations have come forward in extending these benefits, it may be seen as a minimum expectation by the employees in near future", he said. He said many larger organisations have already started offering flexible timings, work from home options, day care facility, among others to support employees in successfully managing both work and home responsibilities. However, options like work from home may not be viable for all businesses, he said.
Going one more step ahead, Myntra has put in place an enhanced maternity and paternity programme that starts as early as their pregnancy term when their nutritional needs are attended to by providing them milk and fruit baskets or their medical tests, supported through discounted rates for OPD and scans.
Myntra VP, HR, Pooja Gupta said:"New mothers need the time, the support at workplace even prior to delivery and a full system to help them return to work and careers without compromising their work space. The company has put in place an enhanced maternity and paternity programme that will change the way women in India look at the experience of motherhood while still working."
The company also has provision to move new mothers to specially designed rooms where they get better equipped work stations and chairs, she said. For new mothers, the maternity leave can go all the way up to one year and there is a full programme to help them get back to work, she added.