On 9th March 2017, Indian Parliament Passed “Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016”. The bill is pending President’s assent.
Highlights of amendments made through this bill
1. Maternity leave for working women has increased from current 12 weeks to 26 weeks applicable only for first two children. Such leave will continue to be 12 weeks for children beyond two.
2. For “commissioning mother“, the maternity leave will be for 12 weeks (There was no provision for “commissioning mother” in earlier act of 1961)
Definition of “commissioning mother”: A biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo planted in any other woman.
3. “Crèche facilities” for working mothers should be provided by all such employers who employ more than 50 employees
4. All working mothers should be allowed to visit the “Crèche facilities” four times during the normal working hours to look after and feed the child in the crèche
5. The employer should also allow working women to work from home if possible
6. The provisions for Maternity Leave Benefits should be informed to employee at the time of her appointment
1. This is a very good news for the working women, as they would be able to attend maternity along with getting full wages during the maternity leave period.
2. The crèche facility would ensure mothers can breast feed babies more often, this will ensure better health of the babies. Having crèche facility provided by the employer would create better trust factor, feedback mechanism. This would also reduce enormous amount of worries working mothers have regarding overall baby care and time management.
3. It might impact finance of Employer if employer needs to pay full wage to the working women during their maternity leave period. Other option could be a social security fund which can be utilized towards extending leave benefits. Employer, Employee and Govt can contribute towards that fund.
4. Many employers may not be too keen in hiring women employees especially newly married
5. The employers who have more male employees may get competitive edge over the employers who have significant number of female employees expecting to go for maternity leave
6. In the bill, there is no clarity on how long female employees should spend in the “Crèche facilities” when they visit there