Lok Sabha has passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 on 9th March, 2017, which inter alia includes increasing the maternity benefits to woman covered under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. The Bill seeks to amend the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 to provide for the following:
(i) Maternity leave available to the working women to be increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for the first two children.
(ii) Maternity leave for children beyond the first two will continue to be 12 weeks.
(iii) Maternity leave of 12 weeks to be available to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to the “commissioning mothers”. The commissioning mother has been defined as biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo planted in any other woman.
(iv) Every establishment with more than 50 employees to provide for crèche facilities for working mothers either individually or as a shared common facility within such distance as may be prescribed by rules, and such mothers will be permitted to make four visits during working hours to look after and feed the child in the crèche including the interval for rest allowed to her.
(v) The employer may permit a woman to work from home if it is possible to do so, with mutual consent of the employee and the employer.
(vi) Every establishment to intimate in writing and electronically to every woman at the time of her initial appointment about the benefits available under the Act.
The Bill was presented in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of State (IC) for Labour and Employment, Shri Bandaru Dattatreya. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has already been passed by the Rajya Sabha on 11th August, 2016. These changes will have a major impact on the health, well-being and growth of the future generation in the Country. It will have positive impact on women’s participation in labour force and will improve the work-life balance of the women workers. The Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act, 2016 will come into the force only after the President’s assent.