EXPECTING HAPPINESS

Amrita Prasad
Monday, 9 April 2018

As people continue to debate over period leave for women, and other such facilities, we speak to organisations about their provisions for expectant mothers to make their journeys smoother

Today’s woman is dauntless — she strives for equality and loves to seize every opportunity that comes her way. Women are increasingly heading boardroom meetings and have carved their own niche in MNCs, healthcare, media and every possible field. Expectant mothers are no exception to this. Despite going through numerous biological and emotional changes, they continue to give their best at the workplace, which is why it becomes important for organisations and companies to make workplace environment comfortable for such expectant mothers.

PRE AND POST MATERNITY CARE
Vipul Singh, VP and head of HR and communications, ADP Private Limited, says that they offer a host of benefits that help women associates in their organisation not only reach their full potential but also easily reintegrate into the workforce upon returning from maternity leave. “Maternity is a life-changing event for a woman and we take equal responsibility in welcoming a new member to our extended family. We ensure that the expecting mothers are given ample flexibility to cope with the biological, physiological and physical changes in their life. The maximum maternity leave eligibility is 26 weeks of paid leave for up to two surviving children. There are further provisions for leave. The company allows expecting mothers flexible work from home options when the business permits. It also encourages team leaders to build a comfortable ‘join back’ mechanism that includes training and flexible work hours (if possible).”

While it is mandatory for companies to provide paid maternity leave to women, most often transportation during pregnancy is often a challenge. Singh says, “We provide transport facility for all permanent full-time pregnant associates of the organisation. This policy is in conjunction with the existing transport policy of the organisation, provided for associates working in designated shifts. We also provide security escort for any woman associate who is at work at or after 8 pm.”

The company also runs an infant care policy to ensure easier reintegration of women to the workforce post the maternity leave and new mums can also claim reimbursement towards infant care expenses for maximum of two children, up to the age of 30 months. “The wellbeing of new mothers is very important for us. Hence, we have nursing stations built in the offices across all our locations. Women associates make sure to support every mother in the organisation personally, as well as guide them through work professionally. There are multiple avenues for expecting mothers where they can seek guidance. MEDHA, the women’s forum at ADP, makes it possible to identify these associates, guide them through the benefits that ADP provides, and supports them pre and post maternity.” adds Singh.

CELEBRATING PLURALISM
While everything boils down to equality at workplace, many may wonder why such special treatment for women. Joy George, vice president, human resource, CDK Global (India), feels that valuing diversity is an important component. He believes that it is essential to recognise and appreciate differences between people and acknowledge them. Talking about how the automotive e-commerce company is taking care of expectant mothers, George says, “Spanning over a range of initiatives specifically focussed on women employees, we are seamlessly integrating personal and professional lives of working mothers and pregnant women alike. The company offers programmes that indicate a healthy interest in providing flexible hours, work from home options, reimbursements for day care centres, and a paid leave for expectant mothers. The company also provides paid transport from the second trimester onwards and has a sick room facility inside the office premises to provide enough rest and breaks to pregnant women during office hours.” There is also the availability of OTC drugs. Apart from the 26 weeks of paid maternity leave, it ensures that women take the time out to undergo any medical check-up visits as and when scheduled during the nine-month cycle.

With medical complications becoming common these days and the growing number of C-section surgeries adding to the woes of young pregnant women, George says, “We have a good medical insurance policy covering both the C-section and normal delivery along with pre-natal and post-natal expenses coverage.”

GIFTING SPECIAL EXPERIENCES
Mahindra Group’s Xoxoday, a startup which curates experiences for to-be parents and new parents in association with some of the biggest companies in India, has been striving towards making the workplace favourable for its women employees, especially expectant mothers and new mums. Apart from the paid maternity leave, flexible working hours and transport facility, the company also has provision for paternity leave to help women at home. “As a startup, it is important to care for your people. In such scenarios it becomes important to take care of people with special situations. Pregnancy is such a gift and we want to provide the kind of facility that makes such occasions special for our people,” says Abhishek Kumar, co-founder and head of HR department, Xoxoday.

The organisation has curated experiences for to-be parents and new parents which are accepted by a few top corporates in India including Infosys, Accenture etc to reward their employees expecting babies. “These include baby moons, photo sessions, mom getting back to work after delivery, toddler experience etc,” says Kumar.

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