The Lok Sabha today, passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which entitles working women, in the organised sector, to paid maternity leave of 26 weeks. The change has been made to the previous time period of 12 weeks. This amendment will benefit approximately 1.8 million women in the country.
This new law will apply to all establishments employing 10 or more people, however, the entitlement is only applicable to the first two children. For the third child, a female employee will only be entitled to a 12-week paid maternity leave.
The Lok Sabha passed the said bill today, months after the Rajya Sabha had already passed it.
This amendment to the Maternity Benefit Bill, puts India in the third position, after Canada and Norway, where women are entitled to 50 and 44 weeks of paid maternity leave, respectively.
Labour minister, Bandaru Dattatreya, while speaking about the amendments to the bill, said that his aim was to ensure that maximum benefits are given to pregnant women.
He said, “This is my humble gift to women, a day after the world celebrated the International Women’s Day.”
The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, essentially, protects the employment of women during the time of maternity and entitles a them to full paid absence from work, in order to look after their children.