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Nayna was a secretary in a well known firm. She was pregnant and was given three months maternity leave. One month elapsed in waiting for the baby to be born; surely two more months for baby care were not enough. Nayna wanted to breast feed her baby and look after her full time for at least six months. Even if she couldn’t get full time leave for the extra period, she would be pleased to have her working hours reduced so that she could give more time to her baby.

That would suit her better, as she did not want to stay at home all day when the baby slept half the time. She would rather be busy in the office, where she was an efficient and committed secretary. She had the courage to ask her boss if she could leave home later and leave work earlier. He agreed, with no objections at all.

Accordingly, all new mums should not hesitate to ask for such basic needs from their employers. Otherwise women have to be prepared for the effects that taking longer leave can have on their career. Unpaid leave can have a certain effect on how the job is managed in their absence. There may not be any danger of losing the job but promotion may be slower coming. Somebody more competent taking her position in her absence may be another issue to consider.

Nayna thought about it positively and believed that provisions should be made in the firm’s policy to make it easier for a new mother to cope with the stress and responsibility of a child, and it should be open-ended so that the mother could decide what suited her particular situation. But the needs of the company must be balanced with those of the mother.

Demanding six months maternity leave may be right to some extent, but it can damage or downgrade one’s standing in the company. The mother who is very concerned about her baby should consider the matter very seriously and, if necessary, she should quit the job and look after her child for as long as needs be and look for another job afterwards.

But Nayna had her own way of thinking about it. She wanted to be fair to sides, her baby and her job. She worked primarily to make both ends meet at home. It is quite different for the young women who worked just to pass the time or to earn extra pocket money.


© H V Kerai 2009


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