WOMEN EMPLOYEES AND UNINTERRUPTED CHILD CARE LEAVE

By: Varun Tripathi (Symbiosis Law School, Pune)

Child CareThe Supreme Court of India has once again stood steadfast as the protector of individual fundamental rights. In a recent decision in Kakali Ghosh vs. Chief Secretary, Andaman & Nicobar Administration and Ors[1], a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Mukhopadhyaya J, and Gopala Gowda J, held that a woman employee is entitled to the benefit of uninterrupted child care leave for 730 days. The appeal was directed against a judgment by the Division Bench, Calcutta High Court, Circuit Bench at Port Blair. While setting aside the order of the High Court and restoring the order of the Central Administrative Tribunal, the Supreme Court held that the decision of the High court was neither in consonance with the rules prescribed nor with the released notifications by the Central Government. The Court further held that the Authority granted a leave for 45 days, but did not sanction a leave for 730 days without adequate reasons for refusal of the same.

The appeal before the Supreme Court pertained to the question “Whether a woman employee of the Central Government can ask for uninterrupted 730 days of Child Care Leave under Rule 43-C of the Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 1972?”

The appellant had initially applied for a child care leave (“CCL”) for 6 months, for her son who was in the 10th standard, as she was the only person in the family who could take care of her son. Subsequently, she applied for CCL for 2 years, whereas the authority awarded only 45 days of leave.

The Supreme Court perused the issued notifications and the relevant rules and held that the benefit of CCL could be availed by a women employee having minor children below the age of 18 years for a maximum period of 730 days, for taking care of up to two children. The court held that such CCL is not only for taking care of quite young children but also to look after the child in circumstances of the minor’s examination or sickness etc.

The relevant circulars and rules have been reproduced below:

(1) Child Care Leave for 730 days[2].

Women employees having minor children may be granted Child Care Leave by an authority competent to grant leave, for a maximum period of two years (i.e. 730 days) during their entire service for taking care of up to two children, whether for rearing or to look after any of their needs like examination, sickness, etc. Child Care Leave shall not be admissible if the child is eighteen years of age or older. During the period of such leave, the women employees shall be paid leave salary equal to the pay drawn immediately before proceeding on leave. It may be availed of in more than one spell. Child Care Leave shall not be debited against the leave account. Child Care Leave may also be allowed for the third year as leave not due (without production of medical certificate). It may be combined with leave of the kind due and admissible.

Rule 43-C. Child Care Leave[3]

(1) A woman government servant having minor children below the age of eighteen years and who has no earned leave at her credit, may be granted child care leave by an authority competent to grant leave, for a maximum period of two years, i.e. 730 days during the entire service for taking care of up to two children, whether for rearing or to look after any of their needs like examination, sickness, etc.

(2) During the period of childcare leave, she shall be paid leave salary equal to the pay drawn immediately before proceeding on leave.

(3) Child care leave may be combined with leave of any other kind.

(4) Notwithstanding the requirement of production of medical certificate contained in sub-rule (1) of Rule 30 or sub-rule (1) of Rule 31, leave of the kind due and admissible (including commuted leave not exceeding 60 days and leave not due) up to a maximum of one year, if applied for, be granted in continuation with child care leave granted under sub-rule (1).

(5) Childcare leave may be availed of in more than one spell.

(6) Child care leave shall not be debited against the leave account.

This decision of the Supreme Court is commendable in that it allows women to balance domestic and professional responsibilities through the grant of paid leave when women need to lend extra effort on the home front. Through this judgment, the apex court has shown that it values quality rearing and caretaking of children who are to be responsible citizens of tomorrow, and is willing to grant leave as well as pay women for their efforts towards the same.


[1] Civil Appeal No. 4506 of 2014 (arising out of SLP (C) No. 33244 of 2012)

[2]  O.M.  No . 13018/2/2008-Es tt.  (L)  dated  11th  September,  2008, Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India.

[3] Inserted by Notification No. F.No. 11012/1/2009- Estt. (L) dated 1st December, 2009, published in G.S.R. No. 170 in the Gazette of India, dated 5th December, 2009 by DoPT, Government of India.

 


 

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