The Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which seeks to provide protection to working women in the form of full paid leave in order to take care of the child. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 granted a leave of 12 weeks, which now has been extended to 26 weeks. The amendment Bill will be applicable to organizations that have 10 or more employees.
The amendment Bill gives a period of 26 weeks of leave, in both public as well as private establishments. In the present Maternity Benefit Act, adopting mothers were not given any benefits. However, the amendment introduced provides 12 weeks of leave for commissioning and adopting mothers and makes it mandatory for the organization to install a creche facility, if the number of workers is 50 and above.
The Bill will also facilitate the ‘work from home’ option. Ahead of the passage of the Bill, Maneka Gandhi, Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development said that it is a crucial Bill which will help improve the health of babies.