• Mothers and babies rejoice! New bill says 6 months maternity leave plus benefits

    A proposal approved by the Union cabinet on Wednesday will see striking changes introduced in the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.

    Scheduled to be tabled in this session of Parliament, the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, will, if passed, allow mothers of new-borns six months’ maternity leave, as well as several other benefits.

    Here are six things you should know about the new maternity bill.

    1. Once passed, the amendment will ensure six months’ maternity leave for all women who work in establishments that employ 10 or more people, according to Firstpost.com. This is double the amount of maternity leave currently available.
    2. The ministry or women and child development had originally suggested eight months’ maternity leave, but after discussions among all the stakeholders including representatives of employers and employees and members of government departments, six months was the amount of leave agreed upon.
    3. For the first time, maternity benefits will be available to adoptive mothers and ‘commissioning’ mothers – that is, mothers whose babies are born via a surrogate mother. Both adoptive and commissioning mothers will be entitled to three months’ maternity leave, according to a statement issued by the cabinet after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
    4. According to LiveMint.com, these amendments have two aims. The first is to allow women the time to take care of their new-borns. The second is to help increase women’s participation in the labour force.
    5. The bill will also make it mandatory for all companies that have 50 employees or more, or 30 women employees, whichever is lower, to set up crèches for their employees’ children.
    6. Though few details are available about it at the moment, the cabinet statement said the bill will also ‘facilitate work from home’.