All you need to know about the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill-Mains-2016 & Prelims-2017

  • The Government’s passing of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is a step aimed at benefitting the 1.9 million women in the organised sector, as well as increasing the strength of the working women force.
  • The Government is of the view that the maternal care to the child during early childhood is crucial for growth and development of the child.
  • As per the proposed amendments, maternity leaves for women working in both private and public sector will be enhanced to 26 weeks as against the existing 12 weeks.
  • However, those women employees who already have two or more children will get 12 weeks of leave only.
  • The amended bill also propose 12 weeks of maternity leave to commissioning mothers who use surrogates to bear a child as well as to working women adopting a baby below the age of three months.
  • At present, the Maternity Benefit Act does not provide any maternity leave for commissioning or adopting mothers.
  • The amended Act have an enabling provision that would allow nursing moms to work from home even after 26 weeks of maternity leave, depending upon their job profile.
  • But, work-from-home option will be available where the nature of work assigned to the employee permits her to do so.
  • The woman employee and her employer have to mutually agree on the duration of the `work from home’ arrangement.
  • It has become mandatory for firms with 50 employees to have creches individually or a few firms can set up a common facility within a prescribed distance.
  • The employer will have to allow four visits to the creche which will include the interval of rest allowed to women employees.
  • With the passage of this bill, India will join the league of 42 countries where maternity leave exceeds 18 weeks.
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) recommends a minimum standard maternity leave of 14 weeks, though it encourages countries to increase it to at least 18 weeks.

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