BENGALURU: The Lok Sabha, on March 9, 2017 passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which has extended the paid maternity leave for working women from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. The law is said to help about 1.8 million women.
The Labour Minister, Bandaru Dattareya added the amendment to the existing bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha in the winter session. “ This is a historic decision taken by our government. I had requested Honourable Minister for Labour to make these changes in relevant laws and I am grateful to him for taking up my request,” said Maneka Gandhi, Minister of Women and Child Development to PTI.
The bill had earlier stated that a woman is allowed 12 weeks of maternity leave of which she is allowed to take 6 weeks before the date of delivery. It has now been revised and changed to 26 weeks of maternity leave of which she is allowed to take 8 weeks before the date of delivery. “ It will be applicable to women working in Special Economic Zones too,” said Bandaru Dattareeya to Indian Express.
The bill also entitles maternity benefits to a woman who legally adopts a child below the age of three months or a commissioning mother for a period of twelve weeks from the date the child is handed over to them or as the case may be.
“My maternity leave is only for 3 months. I need to report back to work in first week of April. My company has not given me any information about the extension of my maternity leave after the bill was passed,” said Raksha, an employee at a private firm to The Beacon.
In case where the nature of work assigned to a woman is of such nature that she may work from home, the employer may allow her to do so after availing of the maternity benefit for such period and on such conditions as the employer and the woman may mutually agree
In case the nature of work is such that a woman can work from home, the employer may allow her to do so after the maternity benefit for such period has been availed, provided that woman and her employer have mutually agreed.
“ This bill is a boon for many working mothers. Luckily for me, my company’s maternity policy is extremely good. I had 6 months of maternity leave, 4 months of flexible working hours and I could take a sabbatical up to a year if I wished to,” said Ashritha an employee of Flipkart and mother to a one year old, to The Beacon.
The bill makes it mandatory for all organistations with more than fifty employees to have the facility of a creche with common facilities. The employer must allow the woman four visits in a day, which includes her interval for rest.
All organistions are expected to inform their women employees about all the benefits under the Act, in writing and electronically, at the time of their appointment.