Govt to increase maternity leave in private sector to 26 weeks

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi Monday said the Ministry of Labour has agreed to increase maternity leave to six-and-a-half months.

Written by Shalini Nair | New Delhi | Updated: December 29, 2015 1:37 pm
 increase in maternity leaves, maneka gandhi, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, 26 weeks maternity leave Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi.

The union government is set to increase the maternity leave for women employed in private firms from the existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks.

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi Monday said the Ministry of Labour has agreed to increase maternity leave to six-and-a-half months. “We had written to the Labour Ministry asking that the maternity leave be extended taking into account the six months of breastfeeding that is required post childbirth. The Labour Ministry has agreed to increase it to six-and-a-half months,” said Maneka.

The Ministry of Labour is expected to amend the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, which presently entitles women to 12 weeks of maternity benefit whereby employers are liable to pay full wages for the period of leave.
Officials of the WCD Ministry said they will push for extending the leave to eight months, or 32 weeks, for women employed in both private and government sectors.

But WCD officials said the Labour Ministry has expressed reservations about increasing the maternity leave any further as they perceive that doing so will adversely affect the employability of women.

[READ] Maternity leave mapped: How many days are mothers eligible in other countries

“The Labour Ministry has decided on six-and-a-half months following meetings with various stakeholders. We, however, feel that eight months of maternity leave — for women in government as well as private sectors — is required. We will move a note to the Cabinet Secretariat in this regard. Six months of exclusive breastfeeding is very important to combat malnutrition, diarrhoea and other diseases in infants and to lower infant mortality rate,” said a WCD official.

The International Labour Organisation recommends a minimum standard maternity leave of 14 weeks or more, though it encourages member states to increase it to at least 18 weeks. At 26 weeks, India is set to join the league of 42 countries where maternity leave exceeds 18 weeks. It, however, falls behind several East European, Central Asian and Scandinavian countries, which have the most generous national legislation for paid maternity leave.

Women employed in government jobs in India get a six-month maternity leave as per the Central Civil Service (Leave) Rules 1972. The last circular in this regard was issued in 2008, when it was increased from four-and-a-half months. If the WCD Ministry’s recommendations to the Cabinet Secretariat are accepted, the Department of Personal & Training will have to issue orders to enhance it to eight months.

Moreover, women government employees are allowed to take childcare leave of up to two years in phases at any point till their child turns 18 years old. The Seventh Pay Commission recently recommended that only the first 365 days of leave should be granted with full pay, while the remaining 365 can be availed at 80 per cent of the salary. But Maneka recently petitioned Finance Minister Arun Jaitley against the proposal, terming it a regressive step at a time when women are trying to become more economically independent.

“Women in India need longer maternity leave in absence of any support in parenting from men. It should not be seen as a deduction in labour hours but as a long-term investment from the future economic point of view. This is in addition to the fact that women need long maternity leave to recuperate and invest in child care,” said Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research.

She added that a recent analysis of the Maternity Benefit Act by CSR for the National Commission of Women showed that discrimination against pregnant women was widely prevalent in the corporate sector in the country.

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  1. N
    Jul 11, 2017 at 12:43 pm
    Kindly provide the govt.orders increasing maternity leave extended to 24 to 26 weeks.
    1. P
      May 16, 2017 at 10:11 am
      is it applicable for minority ins ute
      1. M
        Apr 24, 2017 at 11:44 am
        Hi,Mamta this side.i am also working in private organization.i had taken maternity leave in September to march.but my company paid only three month maternity leave. Shall I eligible to avail 6 month maternity leave benefits or not please do let me. Know on that I can speak toy hr accordingly. Thanks Thanks..
        1. P
          Apr 18, 2017 at 4:04 pm
          Hi , iam Working in private sector company Chennai, and my company follows maternity leave 84 days only.
          1. N
            Nidhi Maheshwari
            Jan 15, 2017 at 11:48 pm
            I am Nidhi Maheshwari, working in a private organization in Gurgaon. lt;br/gt; lt;br/gt;I write this note to draw your attention towards a very important issue affecting all “would be mothers”.lt;br/gt; lt;br/gt;In the wake of demonisation in India, we the future mothers of this nation are going to suffer as the amended Maternity Benefit Bill is being withheld due to the above;br/gt; lt;br/gt;The amended bill was ped by the Rajya Sabha in August, earlier this year. However, the bill has not been discussed in the Lok Sabha Winter Session;br/gt;If the bill was ped the maternity leave would have been extended to 26 weeks, which is now limited to a mere 12 weeks;br/gt; lt;br/gt;Being a working woman, the delay in this regard deeply affects me and my family. My delivery is expected to be in the month of February 2017, somewhere between 10th to 15th, to be more precise. If the bill was ped, I would have been able to spend more time with my new born baby when the baby needs me the most, not to mention that I already have a 5-year-old son who yearns for my attention, but my work commitments don't permit me to address it;br/gt; lt;br/gt;Therefore, it is my humble request if the law could see the light of the day at the earliest, and the bill is ped with immediate;br/gt;I am sure that, if the Government can look into this urgently and an immediate action can be taken a lot of “would be mothers” like me will be beneed and would highly appreciate;br/gt; lt;br/gt;Thanks!
            1. J
              Jan 3, 2017 at 5:55 pm
              Please clear the bill of 6months maternity in private schools asap as we are facing lots of problem
              1. K
                Feb 5, 2017 at 2:08 pm
                There should'nt be any discrimination in the award of maternity leave to women in govt services and corporate services. While 26 weeks are sanctioned in gov't ,orders are pending for corporate sector employees.Gov't is convinced the need for the same with respect to the health conditions of the baby and the mother.The mother may be able to concentrate to her job with full vigor after the 26 week rest. urgent action is sought in this matter
                1. K
                  Kavitha G
                  Mar 15, 2017 at 3:30 pm
                  Hi mam, I am working in a private sector Chennai.. I am already on maternity leave and my baby was born on Jan 7th 2017.. But my sector is not updated with the latest rule ped by the government.. They are asking me to join in 3 months or I need to take leaves without pay. Kindly let us know if this is compulsory for all the sectors as few sectors are not updating the current ACT.. I wish forceful action should be taken by the government to increase all private sector maternity leaves as most of them are not updated
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