The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval for amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 by introducing the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Parliament.
The maternity benefit Act 1961 protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a ‘maternity benefit’ – i.e. full paid absence from work – to take care for her child. The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons. The amendments will help 1.8 million (approx.) women workforce in organized sector.
The amendments to Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 are as follows:
• Increase Maternity Benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two children.
• 12 weeks Maternity Benefit to a ‘Commissioning mother’ and ‘Adopting mother’.
• Facilitate ‘Work from home’.
• Mandatory provision of Creche in respect of establishment having 50 or more employees.
• Maternal care to the Child during early childhood – crucial for growth and development of the child.
• The 44th, 45th and 46th Indian Labour Conference recommended enhancement of Maternity Benefits to 24 weeks.
• Ministry of Women & Child Development proposed to enhance Maternity Benefit to 8 months.
• In Tripartite consultations, all stake holders, in general supported the amendment proposal.
According to these amendments, once approved new mothers working in the private sector will get paid maternity leave of up to 26 weeks, up from 12 weeks currently. Benefits will also be extended to commissioning and adopting mothers, however, the maternity leave here will be 12 weeks.
Apart from this, new mothers will also get the provision of working from home, while they nurse the new baby. Every company employing more than 50 employees will have to make provisions for creche facilities.
“There are certain establishments where they can get (the permission to work from home). But in other establishments they will get the facility of (26 weeks maternity leave) after amendment in the Act,” Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya had said earlier this year while talking about the bill.
The Bill will be taken up in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
Once and if approved, at 26 weeks, India will be one of the countries to give the longest maternity leave. The government already has a provision of 26 weeks paid maternity leave for new moms.