Rajya Sabha passes Bill to raise maternity leave to 26 weeks

The Rajya Sabha on 11th Aug 2016 passed the amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act that seeks to provide 26 weeks of maternity leave to working women and 12 weeks to commissioning mothers and introducing an enabling provision of “work from home” for nursing mothers. The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its ex post facto approval to the bill on Wednesday.

The provisions are applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more people. The amendments will help about 1.8 million women in the organised sector, the Cabinet had said.

As per the proposed amendments, maternity leave for women working in both private and public sector will be enhanced to 26 weeks from the current 12 weeks.

However, women who already have two or more children will get only 12 weeks. The bill proposes 12 weeks of maternity leave to commissioning mothers who use surrogates to have a child, as well as to working women adopting a baby below the age of three months.

Additionally, it has a provision that seeks to allow nursing moms to work from home even after 26 weeks of maternity leave, depending upon their job profile.

The 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 arrangement.

The woman-friendly measures also include making it mandatory for firms with 50 employees to have creches individually or in arrangement with a few firms within a prescribed distance. The employer will have to allow the employee to visit the creche four times daily that will include the interval of rest allowed to woman employees.

The government feels the maternal care to the child during early childhood is crucial for the growth and development of the child.

Courtesy: NDTV India

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