A bill that seeks to amend the Maternity Benefit Act and extend the maternity leave benefits to adopting and commissioning mothers is likely to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
The bill recognizes that women who adopt or use a surrogate to bear a child also need time to bond with the child in the initial months and should be entitled to a three month maternity leave. As of now there is no provision for any kind of leave for such mothers. It also proposes to increase the maternity leave for working women in both private and government sector to six-and-a-half months.
Currently women in private sector are allowed a maternity leave of three months while those in government sector are entitled to a leave of six months.
- Increase in maternity leave to six-and-a-half months in govt and private sector
- Women, who adopt or use a surrogate to bear a child should be entitled to a three month maternity leave
- Employers in establishments with 30 women or 50 employees, whichever is less, will have to provide crèche facility
- Crèche facilities will be provided either in office or in any place within a 500- metre radius
- The bill is ‘gender neutral’ and will allow fathers to take their children to crèche, if its far off from the mother’s workplace
- It will be the responsibility of labour inspectors to ensure compliance to the provisions
If the maternity leave is increased, India would be among the 40 countries in the world where the maternity benefit is over 18 weeks.
The International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Maternity Protection Convention mandates a minimum 14 weeks of maternity benefit to women but recommends that countries should increase it to 18 weeks.
According to the bill, employers in establishments with 30 women or 50 employees, whichever is less, will have to provide crèche facilities either in office or in any place within a 500-metre radius.
The bill, which is piloted by the Union labour ministry, is also gender-neutral. This, a senior government official said, will allow even a male employee to take his child to a crèche, if it is far away from the mother’s workplace.
It will be the responsibility of labour inspectors to ensure compliance to the provisions of the Maternity Benefit Act.