Maternity Leave Bill ,2016
On Thursday the Parliament approved a bill granting women who are working in the organized sector a paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, a decision which will benefit around 1.8 million women in India. With this decision, India has become the country with the third highest maternity leave. Canada and Norway give 50 weeks & 44 weeks respectively as paid maternity leave. Lok Sabha passed The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 on Thursday, Rajya Sabha had passed it last year in August.
Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya said that while framing the new rules, he would try to ensure that pregnant women get maximum benefits. “This is my humble gift to women, a day after the world celebrated International Women’s Day,” he said. The new law will apply to all the organizations employing 10 or more people and the entitlement will only be for the first two children. For the third child, the entitlement will be only be for 12 weeks.
The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, protects the employment of a woman during her maternity time and entitles her a full paid absence from work to take care of her child. Among other things, the bill also provides for 12 weeks maternity leave to a woman who legally adopts a child below 3 months of age & a commissioning mother who uses her egg to have a surrogate child. In such cases, the 12 week maternity leave will be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the adoptive or commissioning mother. The Bill also requires every establishment with 50 or more employees to provide creche facilities. Women will be allowed 4 visits to the creche in a day.
The bill also made a provision under which a woman can work from home. This option can be availed after the period of maternity leave for a duration which is mutually decided by the employer and the woman.