The last 12 months have been iconic with respect to maternity leave laws in India. In the public sector, Maneka Gandhi led a campaign to introduce a minimum 26 weeks. Now, a new bill enforces this upon private sector companies as well. These will have to give 26 weeks or six and a half months leave to their women employees. Earlier, private sector companies would only give about three months of leave which was even lesser in shops and small scale companies.
The new bill is going to be taken up by the cabinet and the Labour Minister plans to push it through in the monsoon session of the Parliament.
“There are certain establishments where they can get (the permission to work from home). But in other establishments they will get the facility of (26 weeks maternity leave) after amendment in the Act,” Labour Minister Bhanu Dattatreya said to Indian Express. This does leave the question mark on how this rule applies to work-from-home options for working mothers.
Some larger private sector companies like Airtel, Flipkart, Microsoft India, Nestle India had already started giving their women close to 26weeks off with full pay. And Flipkart also gives full pay and flexible working hours for four months after maternity leave to its women.
When asked about paternity leave, the minister replied that the bill was about mothers and children and not about men. He said that the law which will allow women to work in over night shifts in Delhi will also contribute to employment generation. He called it a pro-women’s law. Could these kinds of move help bring more women to the workplace? We really do hope so. As a McKinsey report suggests that women could add 60% to 2025 GDP if India can bridge the gender gap.
Picture credit- DNAIndia