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Deutsche Bank India increases maternity leave from 16 to 26 weeks. Deutsche Bank India has 3,830 women employees; gender diversity 32%.

Madhavi Lall, MD & HR head: New policy strengthens our commitment to gender diversity. We base our policies around the needs of our employees.

After the Tata Group significantly raised the bar this year by offering maternity leave of up to 27 weeks, Deutsche Bank India has come close by increasing maternity leave from 16 weeks to 26 weeks.

Beyond the statutory requirements, most progressive organizations offer maternity leave between 22-25 weeks. The current statutory requirement for maternity leave is 12 weeks.

Madhavi Lall, MD & HR head, India, Deutsche Bank, told TOI, "The new policy aims at strengthening our commitment to gender diversity. We base our policies around the needs of our employees. A critical feedback we got from our women employees was that maternity leave of up to 26 weeks would be more suitable and work perfectly for them because creches don't take children who are less than 6 months. So the new policy change gels with that as well," said Lall.

Deutsche Bank India has a total women employee strength of 3,830, with the overall gender diversity at 32%.

Although the legal requirement on maternity leave is three months, companies like Hindustan Unilever, HCL Technologies, Accenture, Microsoft, Flipkart and Snapdeal, to name a few, have proactively enhanced it for the benefit of their women employees and as a measure to retain them at work. Women employees find it difficult to return to work after three months and usually go on unpaid leave. This gets extended further, resulting in several women opting out of the workforce.

Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi had made a suggestion that maternity leave benefits be extended to 26 weeks. However, this has not been formalized.

Saundarya Rajesh, founder & president, Avtar Group, a diversity & inclusion talent strategy consulting firm, said maternity leaves of over six months and more offered by some of the companies in India are among the best across the world. But, she said companies also need to introduce `return to work' programmes for women.

"It is very critical for companies to offer a whole basket of benefits around maternity, such as buddy system and staggered timing in addition to ensuring that the performance ratings of women employees returning from maternity are retained. A number of women employees tell us that it is because of such practices followed by their organizations that they decided not to leave the workplace," said Rajesh.

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