The Rajya Sabha on Monday approved the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016. The bill that seeks to increase maternity leave to 26 weeks from the present 12 weeks was earlier passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 11, last year. Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien observed that the measure was already passed by both the houses and there was only a “technical amendment” with which it was to be taken up once again. The Bill was then passed with voice vote.
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, also provides for leave up to 12 weeks for a woman who adopts a child below the age of three months, and for commissioning mothers. The period of maternity leave will be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the adoptive or commissioning mother. In surrogacy, the surrogate mother carries a child for another person after an agreement made before conception of the child. The person wishing to adopt and foster the child is called the commissioning person or couple.
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The bill paves the way for the ratification of International Labour Organisation convention No.183 that provides for 14 weeks of maternity leave benefit to women. It also facilitates “work from home” for nursing mothers once the leave period ends and has made creche facility mandatory in respect of establishments with 50 or more employees.