The new maternity benefits apply for up to two surviving children.
Bringing a long-pending proposal into action, the Lok Sabha, yesterday passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, increasing the maternity benefits from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.
The official press release by the Ministry of Labour & Employment, said that the amendment “includes increasing maternity benefit to woman covered under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 from 12 weeks to 26 weeks up to two surviving children in order to allow the mother to take care of the child during her/his most formative stage”.
In addition, the new benefits also provide a maternity benefit of 12 weeks to commissioning mothers and adopting mothers, facilitating ‘work from home’ to a mother with mutual consent of the employee and the employer, making it mandatory in respect of establishments having fifty or more employees , to have the facility of crèche—either individually or as a shared common facility— within such a distance as may be prescribed by rules. The women are to be allowed four visits to the crèche daily, including the interval for rest allowed to them. Also, every establishment is to intimate in writing and electronically to every woman, at the time of her initial appointment, about the benefits available under the Act.
The Bill was presented in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of State (IC) for Labour and Employment, Bandaru Dattatreya. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 had already been passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 11, 2016.
These changes will have a major impact on the health, well-being and growth of the future generation of the country. “It will also have a positive impact on women’s participation in the labour force and will improve the work-life balance of women workers,” the release mentioned. The Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act, 2016 will come into force only after the President’s assent.
Expressing delight, Women and Child Development Minister, Maneka Gandhi hailed the passage of the new Maternity Bill. She wrote a message on Change.org addressing the women who had petitioned her on the issue, “This is a historic decision taken by our government. I had requested the Minister for Labour to make these changes in relevant laws and I am grateful to him for taking up my request. While congratulating all working women who are planning to have a child, I assure you that we will continue to work for women in the country,” she said.
In line with the Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act, 2016, EY India also announced its new maternity benefits increasing the maternity leave to 26 weeks from 12 weeks, for up to two children. It also allows paid adoption leave of 12 weeks for those adopting a child below the age of three months and of six weeks to those adopting a child older than three months and up to five years. In addition, a commissioning mother is entitled to 12 weeks’ leave.