Maternity: How Companies Can Support Indian Mothers

Companies need to make it easier for women to work (Source: Flickr, Creative Commons)

Despite maternity leave in India being increased to 26 weeks for a large portion of Indian women, new mothers could still further benefit from the support of their employers and Indian society. The fear for many Indian women when going into maternity leave is the lack of support given by employers. Though maternity is not explicitly a mother’s job, women must given the ability to have both children and a career; these things should not be mutually exclusive in modern society. These benefits, of course, should never be forced on a mother; whether or not these additional benefits are availed should be down to the choice of the mother. These benefits would be very positive for new mothers in metropolitan cities such as Mumbai where most women live with their nuclear families and don’t have the help of extended family when it comes to raising their children.

While now being obliged to offer 26 weeks, there are little to no benefits given to mothers in order to smoothen their transition from leave to work. For example, establishments are not required to have a daycare in the area unless they employ more than fifty women. This puts many women who work at smaller establishments at a major disadvantage as they are unable to have access to appropriate daycare services. Day Care services as a whole, however, are not widely or easily accessible in India outside of metropolitan areas. This would require companies to have some sort of incentive in order to organise a day care service for their workers.

Countless women in India find it difficult to return to the workforce after having children since they are not fully settled into a routine with their young children. Children of these women will be barely 6 months old when their mothers return to work; this is too young an age to expect the women and children to be in a settled routine. Therefore, one of the best things companies and other establishments can offer to mothers is accessibility to flexible/reduced work hours. Mothers are not requesting any drastic reduction in their working hours, but rather the ability to change their timings in order to make time for caring for their children. This would not only help mothers actually raise their children, but also give them the ability to maintain productivity in both aspects of their lives: parenting and working.

Working from home is a common occurrence, and could deeply benefit the lives of new mothers. If women have the ability to work from home, this will not only make the transition to work easier, it will also increase productivity. Women will be able to complete the same amount of work as they would in an office situation, but from the comfort of their home as they are watching over their children.

Clearly, all additional benefits could only make a positive impact on all aspects of a new mother’s life. They would also help mother’s work and maintain productivity without finding it difficult to transition from the maternity leave period to the office. While these aren’t necessary for every new mother, they would be incredibly favourable for mothers who do not have a set support system in place when it comes time for them to return to the work force. In large cities in India, women are much less likely to have family members living with them who have the ability to help them take care of their children. Therefore, companies and society have to do more in terms of smoothing their transition from home to work, rather than hindering their careers.