The Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the much awaited amendment to Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, paving way for 26 weeks of maternity leave to working women besides providing for 12 weeks of maternity leave for commissioning mothers and introducing an enabling provision of "work from home" for nursing mothers.
Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its ex postfacto approval to the bill on Wednesday. The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons. "The amendments will help approximately 1.8 million women workforce in organised sector," the Cabinet had said.
The bill will now go to Lok Sabha, where the government enjoys majority, and after its passage in the lower house, the changes will be notified by the labour ministry.
As per the proposed amendments, maternity leaves for women working in both private and public sector will be enhanced to 26 weeks as against the existing 12 weeks. However, those women employees who already have two or more children will get 12 weeks of leave only.
The amended bill also propose 12 weeks of maternity leave to commissioning mothers who use surrogates to bear a child as well as to working women adopting a baby below the age of three months.
Additionally, the amended Act have an enabling provision that would allow nursing moms to work from home even after 26 weeks of maternity leave, depending upon their job profile.
But, work-from-home option will be available where the nature of work assigned to the employee permits her to do so. The woman employee and her employer have to mutually agree on the duration of the `work from home' arrangement.
The "women-friendly" measures also include making it mandatory for firms with 50 employees to have creches individually or a few firms can set up a common facility within a prescribed distance. The employer will have to allow four visits to the creche which will include the interval of rest allowed to women employees.
he government is of the view that the maternal care to the child during early childhood is crucial for growth and development of the child.
Besides, the 44th, 45th and 46th Indian Labour Conference had recommended enhancement of maternity benefits to 24 weeks while the ministry of women & child development proposed to enhance maternity benefit to 8 months.
Source:-The Economic Times