The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed by the Lok Sabha after the Rajya Sabha approved it.
It has made India third on the list of countries with most maternity leave, after Canada and Norway where it is 50 weeks and 44 weeks respectively.
The Bill is an amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, which protects the employment of women and entitles her to full-paid absence from work to take care for her child.
Salient Features of the Bill:
Women working in the organised sector will now be entitled to paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, up from 12 weeks.
The Bill also provides for maternity leave of 12 weeks to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to commissioning mothers (defined as a biological mother) who uses her egg to have a surrogate child. In such cases, 12-week period of maternity leave will be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the adoptive or commissioning mother.
It also makes it mandatory for every establishment with more than 50 employees to provide creche facilities within a prescribed distance. The woman will be allowed four visits to the creche in a day. This will include her interval for rest.
The new law will apply to all establishments employing 10 or more people and the entitlement will be for only up to first two children. For third child, the entitlement will be for only 12 weeks.
The Bill has a a provision under which an employer can permit a woman to work from home, if the nature of work assigned permits her to do so. This option can be availed of, after the period of maternity leave, for a duration that is mutually decided by the employer and the woman.
The amendments would ensure that full maternal care is provided during the full bloom period and will encourage more women to join the workforce in organised sector.