Becoming a new parent is a huge responsibility. For many new mums, the decision to return to work after having a baby can be agonizing as the expenses definitely spike with the addition in family but you also want to give all your time and attention to the new bundle of joy. For mothers who are forced to take unpaid maternity leave or quit her job due to unavoidable reasons, the situation becomes infinitely more challenging. However, Maternity Leave Bill Passed by the Cabinet will definately work as a moral booster for the woman work force.
Luckily for the women employees, the Indian govt has taken note and has passed the amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act on 11 Aug 2016.
The bill was moved for consideration and passage by Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, and was passed by a voice vote.
Dattatreya said “The very purpose of this Bill is to increase the working women force because in the work force, participation of women is decreasing day by day,”.
According to the Cabinet, the amendments will help about 1.8 million women in the organised sector.
Following are the salient features of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016
1. Maternity leave for women working in both private and public sector will be enhanced to 26 weeks from the current 12 weeks.
2. Women who already have two or more children will get only 12 weeks.
3. The bill proposes 12 weeks of maternity leave to commissioning mothers who use surrogates to have a child, as well as to working women adopting a baby below the age of three months.
4. Additionally, it has a provision that seeks to allow nursing moms to work from home even after 26 weeks of maternity leave, depending upon their job profile. The woman employee and her employer have to mutually agree on the duration of the arrangement.
5. The provisions are applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more people.
6. It is mandatory for firms with 50 employees to have crèches individually or in arrangement with a few firms within a prescribed distance. The employer will have to allow the employee to visit the crèche four times daily that will include the interval of rest allowed to woman employees.
While there is already a provision of 26-week or 6-month maternity leave for the government employees, most private sector firms offer maximum three months of maternity leave. Besides, these benefits are not provided at all in many smaller establishments.
This move is aimed at boosting a healthy and productive work environment. It is very important for new mothers to not only be able to spend time with their babies but also be able to transition back to work effectively. This will give them the time and support to transition back to work.
“This initiative would be a good step towards finding solutions to retain female employees and simultaneously it would also be a strengthening move towards increased return to work post-maternity and greater employee retention in the long run,” said Vinita Bimbhet, president, Ficci Ladies Organisation.
It’s praiseworthy that our govt has realised that maternity leave and flexibility at work place for women are not perks or bonuses but shear necessities.