Maternity Bill To Give Women Six Months Off As Needed (26 weeks)
The Rajya Sabha passed a new amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961. This will offer 26 weeks of maternity leave for working women. This goes along with twelve hours of maternity leave for commissioning mothers. In addition, a work from home program has been introduced to support nursing mothers looking to get back into the workforce.
This act will apply to all businesses that have ten or more employees. The new amendments will help close to two million women in the workforce.
Lok Sabha will now receive the bill. After being passed, the labour ministry will take note of the changes in the law in accordance with the bill.
The local law originally stated that maternity leave times for women in all sector was good for about twelve weeks. That total has been expanded to 26 weeks. Women who have two or more children already will only get twelve weeks of maternity leave though.
Also, twelve weeks of maternity leave will be available to commissioning mothers. These are mothers that use surrogates to handle the child-bearing process. Women who are aiming to adopt babies three months of age or younger will also quality for twelve weeks of maternity leave.
Nursing mothers may also be eligible to work from their homes after the 26-week maternity leave period is over. This would be based heavily on the job profile. An employer would have to hammer out an agreement with a woman aiming to work from home first. This is to see if she is eligible to work from home based on her situation and the type of job she is in. The length of an agreement may especially vary based on what the mother is capable of handling.
Another ruling in the new bill states that businesses with fifty or more employees should have individual creches where children are cared for during the business day. Many employers can also choose to set up one common crèche within a particular distance of each other. The distance must be close enough to where all the employees of each business can reach it.
Employers must allow four visits to the crèche. These visits may work during the rest period that the woman who works for the employer has.
Three recent Indian Labour Conferences all recommended that maternity benefits be expanded to 24 weeks. The ministry of women and child development also states that maternity benefits should be expanded to up to eight months in length. This comes as maternal care to a child is believed to be critical to the overall health of a child as it grows. This includes a need for the child to properly develop into a healthier and more stable individual.