As per the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, all establishments with a staff strength of 50 or more are required to provide crèche facility. Karnataka has become the first State to implement the rules for crèche facility as per the Act. According to the Karnataka Crèche Rules, the crèche facility shall be offered to all employees, whether on the rolls, temporary, daily wages or contract.
The Karnataka Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Rules 2019, came into effect on 8 August, 2019. Hopefully, other states will follow suit.
The crèche facilities will be offered to all children below six years of age. The Rules also state that the crèche facility will be located within the premises or within 500 metres from the entrance of the organisation or establishment, so that it can be accessed conveniently. Clarity is yet to be had regarding whether the facility can be availed of by either of the parents, since the term ‘employee’ is used instead of ‘woman’. The working hours of the crèche shall correspond to the working hours of the establishment and will run in shifts, if the parents are also working in shifts.
The height, facilities, child-friendly furniture specifications, hygiene levels and safety requirements of the facility have also been stated in the Rules and all employers will be required to comply with the same. As per the Rule, there shall be one crèche for every 30 children.
However, whether all of this will be practically possible for all employers to adhere to, remains to be seen since most employers lack the infrastructure needed to set up in-house crèche facilities. Space constraints will make it necessary for most companies to resort to external crèche facility providers.