Following the Cabinet approving the amendment made to the Maternity Benefit Act, which aims to raise maternity leave for women from 12 to 26 weeks, the Rajya Sabha has passed the amendment on Thursday.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 10 gave its ex-post facto approval for amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 by introducing the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016.
The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, protects the employment of women during the time of maternity and entitles them of a full paid absence from work to take care for the child. The amendment bill seeks to increase maternity leave to 26 weeks in all establishments, including private sector.
The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons. The bill also provides 12 weeks leave for commissioning and adopting mothers and makes it mandatory to provide creche facility for establishment where the number of workers is 50 and above.
While there is already a provision of 26-week or 6-month maternity leave for the government employees, most private sector firms offer maximum three months of such leave. Besides, these benefits are not provided at all in many smaller establishments. The bill may also have an enabling provisions to allow working mothers to exercise work-from-home option. However, this enabling provision will not be mandatory.