The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016

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The Maternity Benefit Bill, 2016

Parliament passes The Maternity Benefit Bill, 2016

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Before we head to The Maternity Benefit Bill 2016, let us go through the Trending current affairs articles of this month.

The Maternity Benefit Bill : Background

  • The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her full paid absence from work, to take care for her child.
  • This Act covers the working women in public and private sector organisations of the country.
  • The central government has already amended its service rules and is providing 26 weeks maternity leaves to its employees.

The Maternity Benefit Bill, 2016

The Maternity Benefit Bill 2016

  • The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, was introduced in Rajya Sabha on August 11, 2016 and passed by the Rajya Sabha on same day.
  • This Maternity Benefit Bill passed in Lok Sabha on March 9, 2017 after clause to clause discussion and voting through voice vote. Now it is due for president’s assent to become The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act.
  • This Maternity Benefit bill aimed at benefiting about 1.8 million women in the organised sector.
  • The Bill will be applicable to the establishments that hires at least 10 or more people. The entitlement will be for only up to first two children. For third child, the entitlement will be for only 12 weeks.
  • India will take third place in terms of Maternity leaves after Canada and Norway where it is 50 weeks and 44 weeks respectively.
  • The Minister also clarified women working in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) would be entitled to all benefits of the legislation.
  • This Maternity Benefit Bill will apply to all establishments employing 10 or more people and the entitlement will be for only up to first two children.

The Maternity Benefit Bill, 2016 : Highlights of the bill

  • The Act provides maternity leave up to 12 weeks for all women. The Bill extends this period to 26 weeks. However, a woman with two or more children will be entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave.
  • The Bill introduces maternity leave up to 12 weeks for a woman who adopts a child below the age of three months, and for commissioning mothers. The period of maternity leave will be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the adoptive or commissioning mother.
  • The Bill requires every establishment with 50 or more employees to provide for creche facilities within a prescribed distance. The woman will be allowed four visits to the creche in a day.
  • An employer may permit a woman to work from home, if the nature of work assigned permits her to do so. This may be mutually agreed upon by the employer and the woman.
  • The Bill requires an establishment to inform a woman of all benefits that would be available under the Bill, at the time of her appointment. Such information must be given in writing and electronically.

The Maternity Benefit Bill, 2016 : Analysis

  • World Health Organisation have recommended that 24 weeks of maternity leave is required to protect maternal and child health. However, since the costs of this leave are to be borne by the employer, it may have an adverse impact on job opportunities for women.
  • Various countries have implemented different funding models in relation to maternity benefits. In some countries the employer bears the cost, while in some others it is paid by the government.
  • While women will be provided with 26 weeks of maternity leave for two children, the period of leave for a third child will be 12 weeks. This could affect the growth and development of the third born child.
  • The Act and Bill cover women workers employed in establishments with 10 or more employees, and other notified establishments. However, a majority of the women workforce, who are in the unorganised sectors, may not be covered.
  • There are several labour laws that provide maternity benefits to women in different sectors. These laws differ in their coverage, benefits and financing of such benefits.
  • As most of the countries like Australia, France, UK, Singapore have provisions for paternity leave, in India also people are looking for it. But the bill doesn’t have any provisions of paternity leave.

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