The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016

The
amendment introduced under the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill
2016 as and when it becomes the law, will prove beneficial to women
and make India the third highest provider of
paid maternity leave to women employees
in
the private sector after Canada which provides 50 weeks and Norway
which provides 44 weeks of paid maternity leave. The amendments to
the Maternity Benefit Act, as set out in the Amendment Bill, were
recommended at the 44th
session of the Indian Labour Conference held in 2012.
 
The
Maternity Benefit Act 1961 regulates paid maternity leave entitlement
and other related benefits for women employed in factories, mines and
shops or commercial establishments employing ten or more employees,
for certain periods prior to and after childbirth and provides for
post-partum care facilities amongst other benefits. 
 
This law
is also applicable to charitable organisations / NGOs registered
under the Shops & Establishments Act and employing ten or more
employees.
Current
Status of the Bill
The
Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016 which seeks to amend the
Maternity Benefit Act 1961 was passed by the Lok
Sabha
(Lower House of Parliament) on 9th
March 2017 and was earlier passed by Rajya
Sabha
(Upper House of Parliament) on 11th
August 2016. Subject to Presidential Assent, the Bill will become a
Law on and from the date of its publication in the Official Gazette.
CAP will
provide further updates once this Bill receives Presidential assent
and is published in the Official Gazette. This could happen over the
next few weeks.
What does
the Bill promise?
Increased
Paid Maternity Leave
:
  • The
    Bill seeks to increase the duration of maternity leave available for
    women employees from the existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks.
  • Earlier,
    under the Maternity Benefit Act, this benefit could be availed by
    women for a period extending up to 6 weeks before the expected
    delivery date and extending up to 6 weeks after the childbirth. This
    has now been increased by 8 weeks before the expected date of
    delivery and remaining 18 weeks to be availed post childbirth.
  • For
    women who are expecting after having 2 children, the duration of
    paid maternity leave shall continue to be 12 weeks (i.e. 6 weeks pre
    and 6 weeks post expected date of delivery).
Maternity
leave for adoptive and commissioning mothers:
  • The
    Bill extends certain benefits under the Maternity Benefit Act to
    adoptive mothers as well.
  • The MB
    Bill provides that every woman who adopts a child shall be entitled
    to 12 weeks of maternity leave, from the date of adoption. Earlier,
    no such benefits were available to adoptive mothers.
Work from Home option:
  • The Bill has introduced an
    enabling provision relating to “work from home” for women, which
    may be exercised after the expiry of the 26 weeks’ leave period.
  • Depending upon the nature of
    work, women employees may be able to avail this benefit on terms
    that are mutually agreed with the employer.
  • Though not a statutory
    entitlement, it provides an encouraging tool to employers to adopt
    flexibility in the way women employees could function without
    disrupting the much needed care for their child.
Crèche
facility:
  • The
    Bill makes crèche facility mandatory for every establishment
    employing 50 or more women.
  • Women
    employees would be permitted to visit the crèche 4 times during the
    day. However, the Bill is not clear about the period up to which
    such arrangement could be extended to the concerned woman. This may
    get clarified under the Rules to be framed pursuant to the new Law
    coming into force.
Employee
awareness:
The Bill
makes it mandatory for employers to educate women about the maternity
benefits available to them at the time of their appointment.
Please note what is stated here is not final till this bill will become a law on and from the date of its publication in the Official Gazette. CAP will
provide further updates once this Bill receives Presidential assent
and is published in the Official Gazette. This could happen over the
next few weeks.
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