Maternity Bill passed: 26 weeks paid leave, creche a must, other highlights

A day after the world celebrated the International Women’s Day, the Parliament on Thursday passed a bill that will benefit about 1.8 million women in India. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed by the Lok Sabha, months after the Rajya Sabha approved the measure that takes India to the third position in terms of the number of weeks for maternity leave after Canada and Norway where it is 50 weeks and 44 weeks, respectively. While the bill has given many women reasons to cheer, it has left others with a heartburn.

It is a “historic day for women”, the Ministry of Women and Child Development said, adding that the Bill will “pave the way for a healthy and secure mother and a well-nourished child”. Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi called it a “momentous step” and thanked her colleagues for supporting the Bill.

Top highlights of The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016

* The Bill aims to protect the employment of women during the time of pregnancy and entitles them to full paid absence from work to take care of their child

* Women working in the organised sector will now be entitled to paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, up from 12 weeks

* The maternity leave beyond the first two children will continue to be 12 weeks

* The new law will apply to all establishments employing 10 or more people and the entitlement will be for only up to first two children. For third child, the entitlement will be for only 12 weeks.

* The bill also makes it mandatory for employers in establishments with 30 women or 50 employees, whichever is less, to provide crèche facilities either in office or in any place within a 500-metre radius.

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