In February 2014, Saphla Rani made news for becoming a mother for the first time at a very late age of 57. Employed as junior manager with RITES (a public sector undertaking under the ministry of railways), she gave birth to a baby boy after undergoing 15 cycles of in-vitro fertilization, a physically and financially taxing fertility procedure.
Three years later, she is now fighting her employer for – first, not sanctioning her Child Care Leave (CCL), which she claims is her Fundamental Right, and second for withholding her due salary when she anyway proceeded on CCL. Last Friday, Saphla says, she received a suspension letter from RITES.
She claims that despite her repeated applications for sanction of CCL, her employer refused to grant it and also didn’t furnish any valid reason for the same. She has now filed a complaint with the National Commission of Women, which has sent a letter to RITES seeking a report on the matter.
When TOI spoke to a senior official in RITES, he said that although RITES comes under the ministry of railways, it is a public sector undertaking and has a different leave structure. “We don’t follow central government pay packages. And CCL has not yet been approved by our board of directors,” he said.
The 7th Pay commission recommends CCL can be granted to women employees having minor children below the age of 18 years, for a maximum period of 2 years (ie. 730 days) during their entire service, for taking care of up to two children. During this period women will be paid leave salary equal to the pay drawn immediately before proceeding on leave.
While women contest that CCL is their right, official communication from the department of personnel and training denies that. An official clarification issued by the DoPT says that CCL cannot be demanded as a matter of right. “Under no circumstances can any employee proceed on CCL without prior proper approval of the leave by the leave sanctioning authority,” reads the official clarification.
In the past few years frequent cases of denial of this leave have been reported in the media. For example, in 2014, S Mangala, deputy general manager (Aviation Safety), AAI, filed a petition with the Bombay High Court seeking implementation of child care leave norms recommended in the Sixth Pay Commission in 2008. The judges reserved the order after hearing both sides. Mangala approached the High Court after her request for leave for attending to her 12-year-old daughter was rejected.
We can see in rural areas village women labor working with their months old children in the site in improvised cradles These women workers are unorganized and cannot demand
In 2015, the Central Administrative Tribunal ruled the CCL was the right of every working woman while directing Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh to reinstate their employee, Anu Sharma, who was sacked for proceeding on CCL.
The Supreme Court passed an order in 2014 ruling that a woman employee of central government can get uninterrupted leave for two years for child care, which also includes needs like examination and sickness. The apex court passed the order in response to a petition filed by Kakali Ghosh, a government employee, challenging government’s decision not to grant her leave of 730 days for preparing her son for secondary/senior examinations.