Labour Codes 2020: Reforms to encourage women to work

Enhanced maternity benefits and childcare facilities are expected to urge more women to join the workforce


The Government has taken various measures to ensure that more women participate in the labour force. These include childcare facilities, increase in paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, compulsory crèche facilities in all establishments employing 50 or more employees, and even allowing women to work in the night shifts with appropriate safety measures in place.

The Code on Social Security gives immense importance to women workers and their health. According to Chapter VI of the Code, all women will be eligible for maternity benefits. Employers are liable to pay them benefits at the rate of the average daily wage, for the period of their actual absence from work, that is, the time period immediately preceding and immediately following the day of her delivery.

However, no woman can avail maternity benefit unless she has actually worked in an establishment of the employer from whom she claims maternity benefit, for a minimum period of eighty days in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of her expected delivery.

No employer shall expect them to work during the six weeks immediately after delivery, miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy. Employers will be required to ensure that no pregnant women given laborious tasks to do or put in long hours of standing or do any work that will put their own health or of their unborn child at risk.

A woman shall be entitled to maternity leave for a maximum of 26 weeks, of which a maximum of eight weeks may precede the expected date of delivery.

Any woman who legally adopts a child below the age of three months will be eligible for maternity benefit for a period of twelve weeks from the date the child is handed over to the adopting mother or the commissioning mother, whichever the case may be.

Women who return to work after delivery, shall, in addition to the standard interval for rest allowed to her, be permitted to take two breaks during work to nurse their child, until child is a year and three months old.

All establishments with fifty employees or as may be prescribed by the Central Government, shall provide crèche facility within a distance prescribed by the Central Government, as a separate unit or as part of the common facilities, provided the employer allows four visits a day, including the intervals of rest allowed to new mothers.

If the nature of work is such that a woman can perform it effectively from home, the employer may allow her to do so after enjoying the maternity benefit, on mutually agreed terms.

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