Under the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that was passed in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, wherein women in India’s organised sector workforce will get paid maternity leave of up to 26 weeks, up from the existing 12 weeks.
Though law will help 1.8 million women in the organised sector, over 90 per cent of country’s women workforce, which still works in unorganised sector, will not get the benefit.
It will be applicable to women working in Special Economic Zones too, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said.
The new law will apply to all establishments employing 10 or more people and entitlement of 26 weeks’ leave will be allowed for the first two surviving children of a woman. For the third child, paid leave entitlement will be of 12 weeks.
Dr Ashwini Bhalerao Gandhi, Gynaecologist at PD Hinduja Hospital, said, “This was the need of the hour. As 23 years ago, when I delivered my child, I took additional three months to feed my baby. In a metro like Mumbai, where travelling is difficult, juggling between home and work becomes a task. Now, the new mothers will get enough time with the child and to breastfeed for six months.”
Of the 26 weeks of leave, a to-be mother can take eight weeks before due date of delivery and remaining post that. In case the woman expects to become a mother for third time or more, she can take a maximum of six weeks’ leave before delivery date.
Dr Sudeshna Ray, Gynaecologist, Jaslok Hospital, said, “Most of the women extend their maternity leave by three months and prefer to go without pay because they want to breastfeed their child. I am glad that the government has officially extended maternity leave to 26 weeks.”