Before the 1950s, most women didn't work since they were not permitted to cultivate their abilities. As years advanced, and society, with it, women were seen more in various fields.
But still, in society, women are solely burdened with responsibility for childcare work. So, the man (specifically the father) has to bear responsibility for both the mother and child.
The father plays a vital role for both his wife and children. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, fathers who are actively involved in raising their children can make a positive and lasting difference in their lives.
Therefore, for the betterment of the child, the father has to spend more time with their children. But in the context of Bangladesh, unacceptable working conditions don't give the chance for fathers to spend more time with their children.
Section 46 of the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006, ensures a female worker 16 weeks of maternity leave. Rule 197(1) of the Bangladesh Service Rules gives female Government servants six months and Article 4(1) of the Maternity Protection Convention, 2000, provides female workers with not less than 14 weeks maternity leave.
So according to these laws, if a woman employee becomes pregnant while in employment, she is entitled to take maternity leave. But what about the male employee or worker whose wife becomes pregnant?
In 1974, Sweden became the first country in the world to grant fathers the lawful right to take paid leave from work, which is known as paternity leave. Mainly, paternity leave is usually prepared for fathers only, usually to be taken soon after the birth of a child, and meant to enable the father to spend time with his partner, new child, and older children.
Around 70 countries offer paid leave for fathers in the form of paternity leave or shared parental leave, according to an ILO report of 2014. A few companies, such as Microsoft, provide two weeks of paid leave, while Google India provides ten days. Other companies, like these, provide new fathers with paid leave ranging from a few days to a few weeks.
In India, under Rule 43-A of Central Civil Service (Leave) Rules, 1972, for male government employees, they established provisions for paternity leave where it provides the male employees with less than two surviving children for 15 days to take care of his wife and a newborn child.
The employee shall be paid a leave salary equal to the pay last drawn immediately before proceeding on leave for paternity leave. Section 17 of the New Zealand Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act, 1987, guarantees the employee paternity leave.
In terms of fathers' rights to parental leave, current legislation in the UK has set an exciting example. The current law says, "Eligible couples whose child is due on or after April 5, 2015, can now share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay in the first year of their child's life. Parents can take the time off at the same time as each other or separately." So, fathers and mothers can share up to 50 weeks of parental leave and it will also apply to couples who adopt a child.
According to a report published on the 17th of November 2018 by a reputed and reliable national daily, nearly 62 percent of workers in the readymade garment (RMG) sector work for 12 hours per day, approximately 23 percent work for 10 hours, and only 4 percent work for 8 hours per day, and approximately 12 percent work for more than 12 hours.
For an employee or worker, income carries a major priority in an individual's livelihood, but so does spending time with their family. It can be disputing to place a monetary value on the time spent with their children.
A working parent and especially in the context of our society, the father misses out on important development stages of their child's growth. This missed time can never be regained again, once lost, and is potentially a crucial contributing factor towards the loss of their children's maximum development.
Bangladesh has so many powerful laws for the wellbeing of its countrymen and as part of this, like other states, Bangladesh should also introduce the paternity leave law for the citizens.
The proper development of a child needs the effective support of both mother and father. Other than the mother, a child also needs a father, so it is high time for the Government of Bangladesh to put consideration regarding authorising a paternity leave law for male employees and workers.
The government can enact a paternity leave or shared parental leave law for both male and female employees and workers, which would benefit both the child and the state.
Md Fahmedul Islam Dewan is a DLA Piper fellow Scholar and fourth year LLB student at the Department of Law, North South University.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.