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Maternity Leave

Maternity Leave
Highlights

The passage of the Maternity Benefit Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha and in Rajya Sabha on August 11, 2016 augurs well for the Indian society, as a...

The passage of the Maternity Benefit Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha and in Rajya Sabha on August 11, 2016 augurs well for the Indian society, as a whole. The bill-once it becomes law-will be applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons.

According to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the passage "is a landmark moment to those striving for women-led development. The bill ensures better health and well-being of the mother and child. Increase in maternity leave is a welcome provision."

The bill increases maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks. It also provides for leave up to 12 weeks for a woman who adopts a child below the age of three months and for commissioning mothers.

The Bill seeks to amend the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 to provide for the following: (i) Maternity leave available to the working women to be increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for the first two children; (ii) Maternity leave for children beyond the first two will continue to be 12 weeks; (iii) Maternity leave of 12 weeks to be available to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to the “commissioning mothers”.

The commissioning mother has been defined as biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo planted in any other woman; (iv) Every establishment with more than 50 employees to provide for crèche facilities for working mothers and such mothers will be permitted to make four visits during working hours to look after and feed the child in the crèche; (v) The employer may permit a woman to work from home if it is possible to do so; and (vi) Every establishment will be required to make these benefits available to the women from the time of her appointment.

The 44th, 45th and 46th Indian Labour Conference recommended enhancement of maternity benefits to 24 weeks. The amendments in the Bill were taken up following the request by Minister of Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi to Minister for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya to bring about these changes so that a working woman gets time to exclusively breast-feed her child for 6 months after the birth. This period also enables the working mother to recuperate herself before she goes to back to work.

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