Passing of Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016: India is building a world-view model of workplace inclusivity, says Abhijit Bhaduri

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Published: March 10, 2017 2:32:05 PM

A historic decision for India's working women deserves much celebration and discussion. Yes, we are referring to the much awaited and now celebrated Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was passed by the Lok Sabha yesterday.

The provisions of the Maternity Benefit Bill include a much-anticipated relief for women working in the organized sector. (Reuters)

A historic decision for India’s working women deserves much celebration and discussion. Yes, we are referring to the much awaited and now celebrated Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was passed by the Lok Sabha yesterday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to it as ‘a landmark moment in our efforts to women-led development.’ However, this raises a question that brings us back to ground reality – “How does the new Maternity Benefit Bill impact the hiring of women employees across Indian companies?” and “Will recruiters and companies hesitate before they hire women particularly in senior and leadership roles?”

The provisions of the Maternity Benefit Bill include a much-anticipated relief for women working in the organized sector – they will now be entitled to paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, earlier it was 12 weeks.

Abhijit Bhaduri, Social media influencer and Talent Development Coach, told FE Online, “This is a terrific step forward. Gender, as a basis of any kind of boundary, is old world thinking. India is building a world-view model with the passing of this Maternity Benefit Bill. The model of working requires inclusivity – which is also the basis of competitive advantage of building an absolutely inclusive and diverse workplace. Creating this norm acknowledges reality. Acknowledging is the right way to include more women at the workplace. I am certain that maternity benefits will get extended.”

“Talent is going to become more and more important for Indian companies that want to excel in the digital space. More women leaders are required at the top in companies so that such changes can be spearheaded faster. Their number is painfully low at present.”

LINK: Passing of Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016: PM Narendra Modi calls it ‘landmark moment’; 5 facts about it!

Citing an example from his experience while heading HR at Eicher, Abhijit Bhaduri told FE Online, “There was a time when companies would place women on the shop floor, assuming they wouldn’t want to work anyplace else such as a factory. We took a bold decision to put two women engineers to work, not on the shop floor, but in the factory setting and they became the star performers at Eicher! My rationale is this – why deny women employees any opportunities to excel – be it on the shop floor or factory? Appalling that there are biases like ”women cannot play the tabla” – not true. They can but we are used to seeing men play the tabla more, that is all.”

“There are many areas of progress that I see will bring more inclusive workplace and opportunities for working women. Being an employee is just one role, you have many other roles than besides being an employee. The Maternity Benefit Bill reflects the reality of human existence, which is why I believe this is a terrific step forward.”

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More debates and discussions are awaited on how the Maternity Benefit Bill is likely to impact the hiring process. However, there is no doubt in our minds that this historic decision is one that will bring happy smiles to India’s women workforce. More power to them!

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