New Delhi: The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi today (10 August 2016), has approved the amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 by introducing the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Parliament. Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016 seeks to increase Maternity Benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two children.
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016 aims at making workplace gender friendly and promoting gender diversity culture in the organized sector by addressing core issues affecting women working style. In a press statement the government of India said that in addition to the proposed increase in paid Maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, other major changes in the bill are as followed: 12 weeks Maternity Benefit to a ‘Commissioning mother’ and ‘Adopting mother; facilitating ‘Work from Home’ and mandatory provision of Creche in respect of establishment having 50 or more employees.
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 the organised sector.
Once the parliament passes the bill, Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016 will become act and bring good news for 1.8 million women workforce in India. This decision assumes significance as maternal care to the child during early childhood is crucial for growth and development of the child.
Earlier the 44th, 45th and 46th Indian labour conference had recommended enhancement of Maternity Benefits to 24 weeks. Also the Ministry of Women & Child Development proposed to enhance Maternity Benefit to 8 months. The press release mentioned that in the tripartite consultations, all stake holders, in general supported the amendment proposal.