Establishments employing 10 or more persons will be required to grant 26 weeks of paid maternity leave as against 12 weeks at present with Parliament set to pass the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, during the winter session.
The Bill has already been passed by the Upper House by a voice vote amid support from all political parties.
The change in law is likely to benefit 1.8 million women working in the organised sector. Apart from having a positive impact on women’s participation in the labour force, the provisions under the Act would also have a major impact on the health, well-being and growth of the future generation in the country.
The leave extension, however, would be applicable in case of women who have less than two children and in other cases, the existing period of 12 weeks’ leave will continue. Out of 48 crore workers in India, only 18% belong to the organised sector while the rest work in the unorganised sector.
Apart from the leave extension, establishments having more than 50 workers will have to have a creche. This facility can be individually owned or on shared basis and allow four visits to the creche by the woman on a daily basis. This includes the interval for rest allowed to her.
Though the extant Act mandates only three months’ leave, many private organisations give the newly mothers’ extension to heal themselves and take care of the newborn. Apart from the humane angle, the move also helps in enhancing employees’ loyalty to the organisation.
Sources said rather than introducing any new Bill, the labour ministry would pitch for passing two more pending Bills — Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and Employees’ Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016 — in the ensuing session. Both the Bills have been passed in the Lok Sabha and are now awaiting the clearance from the Upper House before becoming Acts.
The Factories Bill, which was introduced in Lok Sabha in 2014, proposes to increase the overtime limit for factory workers from 50 hours now to 100 hours in a quarter and to 125 hours. The Bill also proposes to set up a regulator with punitive powers to ensure safety, health and welfare of workers in factories employing 40 or more people.
The Employees’ Compensation (Amendment) Bill seeks to modify the extant Act to rationalise the penalties and strengthen the rights of the workers in the organsied sector.