India extends paid maternity leave to 26 weeks

Maternity Benefit Act amended to safeguard work-life balance for women

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March 10, 2017

/ By / Kolkata



Now, the new Bill will come into force only after the President’s assent

Now, the new Bill will come into force only after the President’s assent

The Lok Sabha passed a path-breaking bill on maternity benefits extending the leave period from 12 weeks to 26 weeks along with some other aids for the mother to take good care of the child during his/her formative stage.

On March 9, the Lok Sabha passed the bill presented by the Minister of State (IC) for Labour and Employment, Bandaru Dattatreya. The new Bill includes increasing maternity benefit to women covered under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. The extension of leave to the commissioning mother and adopting mother also comes with an added facility of working from home for a mother with the mutual consent of the employee and the employer. For organisations with more than 50 employees, the Bill envisages some mandatory guidelines including the facility of establishing a crèche, either individually or as a shared common facility.

The idea of the crèche also aims to allow the mothers to have a quick and direct access to their children while at work. Therefore, the Bill directs the organisations to have the crèche within such distance as may be prescribed by rules and also allow the mother to make four visits daily. These facilities are supposed to be informed in writing and electronically to every woman at the time of her initial appointment about the benefits available under the Act.

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has already been passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 11, last year.

These changes will have a major impact on the health, well-being, and growth of the future generation of the country. It will have a positive impact on women’s participation in the labour force and will improve the work-life balance of the women workers. The Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act, 2016 will come into the force only after the President’s assent.

The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, yesterday, met and interacted with the recipients of the Stree Shakti Puraskar and Nari Shakti Puraskar for the year 2016. During the interaction, the Prime Minister congratulated the award winners for their pioneering achievements, both in their individual capacities and as torchbearers in their respective fields as well.

The Prime Minister said that if India can grow at 8 pc per annum over the next three decades, it would be one of the world’s most advanced countries. He said women should be suitably enabled so that they can contribute maximally towards this goal.

The Prime Minister said that the Maternity Leave Bill would enhance paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks and is a welcome move towards empowering and protecting women in India.

Maneka Gandhi, the Minister for Women and Child Development, was present at the occasion. She said in a tweet, “I congratulate the women, who are planning to have a child and ensure that the Ministry of Women and Child Development will continue to work for women empowerment.” Congratulating the labour minister, both the houses of the parliament and the Prime Minister, Gandhi said, “The maternity leave of 26 weeks will ensure good health of both the mother and child.”

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