Longer maternity leave is welcome  

Supporting a mother means supporting a family, which is a core part of society. The Government has taken concrete steps to support working women, particularly mothers, with the updated maternity laws.

Calling it a ‘humble gift’ to women in India, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya welcomed the Parliament nod to the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in March. Women working in the organised sector will now be entitled to paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, up from 12 weeks. The bill will benefit about 1.8 million women.

The new law will apply to all establishments employing 10 or more people, and the entitlement applies only up to the first two children. For the third child, the maternity leave entitlement will only be for 12 weeks. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, was passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday, 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.

These new rules, however, will widen the gap between the public and private sectors, in which female employees are entitled to only lesser number of maternity leave and face many more obstacles to have a balance between their careers and families.

In order to compete with the public sector, private sector companies should consider changing their approach to have more family-friendly policies. Healthy competition between the sectors will boost the overall economy. Another positive step is that the updated law provides more support for mothers of newborns with special needs, a new focus that was missing in previous maternity rules.

A more supportive work environment for mothers will have a positive influence on the entire society. Healthy homes lead to healthier workplaces. Mothers would naturally be able to give more in an environment that considers their family needs.





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