DE&I

World of HR: Some banks in India are expanding parental benefits

Companies hope the move will retain more women in the workforce.
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Francis Scialabba

less than 3 min read

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Around 186 countries have paid maternity leave. But in one country where women are struggling to stay in the workforce, companies are expanding maternity-related benefits.

Where in the world? With a population of 1.4 billion people, India is the most populous country in the world. Although women are guaranteed at least 26 weeks of paid maternity leave and offices with more than 50 women must provide onsite daycare in India, the number of women working there has been on the decline since 2005. India’s workforce participation rate for women is around 19%, making it among the lowest in the world, NPR reported.

Some financial institutions in the country are trying to keep new moms in the workforce by investing in more family benefits, Bloomberg reported. For example, HSBC covers the cost of a nanny for up to six years, while Morgan Stanley will pay for taxi transport for pregnant workers. And Citigroup announced this month that new mothers can work from home in their third trimester and for up to a year after they return from maternity leave, according to Bloomberg.

“The heart of the issue is that we will never become a developed country without women’s participation,” Aditya Mittal, CHRO for Citibank India and South Asia, told Bloomberg.

In August, UK-based Standard Chartered Bank announced that adoptive parents worldwide (including in India) can take up to 20 weeks off once they take their child home, the Hindu Businessline reported.

Satellite view. In the US, where there is no federally guaranteed maternity leave, these same companies offer working mothers very different options. Citigroup offers 16 weeks of guaranteed leave to birthing parents in the US, and 20 days of backup childcare per child annually. Morgan Stanley’s leave policies are similar to Citigroup’s, but it also offers discounts on childcare.

The workforce participation rate for women in the US is around 57%, starkly different from that in India.

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.