After 4 hours of debate in the Lok Sabha, where some members demanded to stress on maternity leave, making arguments that children are born in nuclear families and are only looked after by mother and father, the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed in Parliament.
Women working in the organised sector shall now be entitled to paid maternity leave from 12 weeks up to 26 weeks. This new law applies to all the establishment which employs 10 or more people, and this is only up to first two children. If the employee is expecting the third child, the entitlement will reduce to 12 weeks.
India stands in the third position after Canada and Norway regarding maternity leave. Canada has 50 weeks of maternity leave, and Norway has 44 weeks of maternity leave. Bandaru Dattatreya, the Labour Minister piloted amendments to the old Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 to ensure that it gives maximum benefits to pregnant women.
The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 protects the employment of women during her pregnancy time. She is also entitled to full paid absence from work to stay with the newborn. The bill also provides 12 weeks of maternity leave to surrogate mothers and women who legally adopts a child below three months of age. In cases like surrogacy, and adoption, the leave will be counted from the date the child is handed over to the commissioning or adopting mother.
In another provision, every organisation with 50 or more employees, a creche service should be provided within a prescribed distance, and a woman shall be allowed four visits to the creche in a day. The Employer can also permit a woman to work from home if the nature of the work permits her. This option can avail after the maternity leave, and the duration depends on the time agreed between an employer and the mother.
These amendments are progressive in nature and will have a positive impact on mothers by improving their work-life balance.
Bandaru also appealed to state governments to play active roles to ensure that every woman is benefited. Appreciating states like Tamil Nadu which provides more benefit above the mandated in the central statutes.
The employers are also expected to essay the maternity benefits to women at the time of employment. The women working in Special Economic Zones will also be entitled to all the benefits of the legislation.
Unorganised sectors will also be taken care of gradually since this step will only help 1.8 million women and as 90 percent of the women workforce.
The Logical Indian community appreciates the move as this will benefit 1.8 million women. Pregnancy is a very crucial time for both the mother and the baby as it requires a lot of care. Women are also advised to rest and if women with their infants have to work full time than it will result in depression, stress, poor health of the women and the baby and will also affect the family.