Increase in maternity and paternity leave for teachers; Political organisations denounce govt decision claiming it as ‘biased’
The department of Personnel, Government of Sikkim issued a notification numbered 79/GEN/DOP on July 29, for the amendment of the Sikkim Government Services (Leave) Rules, 1982. This notification was for the amendment of Rule 21, and the newly amended rule grants female teachers under Education Department a maternity leave for 365 days and the sub-section of the same, the amended Rule 21(A, grants male teachers under Education Department paternity leave for 30 days. It is to be noted that Rule 3 and Rule 21 of Sikkim Government Services (Leave) Rules were amended in 2018 under the previous government, and the amendment provided all government employees with maternity leave of 180 days.
The newly amended rules have had a mixed reaction in terms of reception, as these rules have been welcomed by many, making their cases of how these rules benefit both female and male teachers who would’ve had recently welcomed a new life to the world. The other half of the spectrum sees these new rules as biased towards government employees working only under education department.
Due to the fact that the amended rules only apply to the teachers working under the education department, people are dissatisfied and raising their concern regarding the amended rules. Social media are flooded with terms like “inequality” and “injustice”.
“On Behalf of SDF Party, I welcome the notification issued by Department of Personnel, Government of Sikkim, which provides the Maternity leave of one year to female teachers working under Education Department and Paternity leave of one month to male Teachers”, stated Bandana Sharma, Spokesperson SDF.
Sharma further stated, “the notification issued is somehow not satisfactory and it generates inequality and injustice for the women employees working on other government departments. The workload of women employees working under other departments is like that of women teachers and needs equal maternity leave.The women employees working under various government departments requires similar kind of attention, treatment, and care during pregnancy and after delivery.”
“The notification will create insecurity to other women employees and their outcomes may not be efficient. The notification issued not only provides inequality between women employees but also lacks similar attention and respect among other employees.Present SKM governments lacks vision in women empowerment and fails to provide equality between the women’s and creating in equality between them,” added Sharma.
While most of the people only talk about the inclusion of other employees under the new amended rules, Rupen Karki, General Secretary of Sikkim Progressive Youth Forum (SPYF) asks about the grounds for the extending maternity leave for one year. “Who pioneer the basis for extending maternity leave for one year? Was it Health Department or World Health Organization? Or is there any directive from Health that says Maternity Leave should be of one year?”
He further added, “Maybe mother doesn’t need a year to get healthy and get back to work. Maybe six month will be enough for her to heal. We want government to clear the basis of extension for maternity leave. It’s a beneficial rule if government could include everyone under these amended rules, like Pharma Companies Workers, Daily Wages Laborers and all the other employees working at various departments.”
“If you’re talking about employees it should be applicable for all, it can’t be just for a specific department. When government applied the said rules only for a specific department, rule does seem a little biased,” he opined.
As social media is flooded with words ‘injustice’ and inequality’ in regard of said rules, Karki doesn’t feel new amended rules are ‘injustice’, “We can’t say its injustice. It’s a beneficial rule and along with employees under Education Department, if other employees get these benefits, it’s a good scheme. We want to ask government to include everyone under this scheme.”
The new rules have deemed to be a topic of the dinner table and has had many talking about it, but amid all the mixed reactions people have more often than not, liked this move by the state government. However it has been, again more oftern than not, debated that the rule would have garnered indisputable respect if it was applicable to all sectors in the working demographic.
Hamro Sikkim Party in regard of new rules, alleged SKM Government of ‘blindly announcing absurd policies to garner votes’. “While any policy granting extended maternity leave is always welcome, it is poor governance to formulate policies that discriminate and create inequality. Hamro Sikkim Party demands that the SKM Government explain to the people of Sikkim, why women employees of other departments of the government need less time and care before, during, and after pregnancy? This only shows that the SKM Government has no real interest in women’s welfare and is blindly announcing absurd policies to garner votes by dividing Sikkimese society.”
They further added, “We can only hope that better sense will prevail and the SKM Government will rise above the lure of vote-bank politics and optics to extend the current policy to the women of all the government departments and increase paternity leave to at least 3 months. The same policy should also be made mandatory for the private sector organizations operating in Sikkim.”
Albert Gurung, a member of Reform Call alleges the government of not contemplating before amending the new rules. “A lot of thorough research, work and contemplation are required before amending rules or making new one but government didn’t show that maturity in this case”.
He added, “Though we welcome the decision of Sikkim Government regarding amended rules for maternity leave yet women working at various other departments should also get the same benefit as female teacher or male teacher working under education department. MR employees, One Family One Job employees, Adhoc employees should be also covered under this scheme.”
Passang Sherpa, General Secretary of Sikkimey Nagarik Samaj talking to Sikkim Chronicle also shared his opinion on the matter. “It’s a good thing that maternity leave was extended for teachers as the child will get adequate care from mother and mother will also get enough time to get healthy but these rules should not be limited only to teachers but should be extended for all the employees and workers under various other departments”.
Child birth has been said to be a painful process yet a beautiful one, that it’s not an easy task to contemplate on both the joys and the pain of labour in child birth and the days that proceed. The joy of being a parent has always been coupled with the responsibilities and tasks that the parents have to labour through, especially in the dearly days. Most of the people welcome the decision to extend the maternity leave for 1 year and paternity leave for 30 days. The only frowns and critiques on the internet and at dinner tables have been on the fact regarding the amended rules that seem to be biased towards one department.