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Last updated: July 2, 2016 at 16:04 pm

Woah! New Law to Make 26-week Maternity Leave Compulsory in Private Sector

Maternity Leave

This has to be the less debated reform from the government, luckily. Henceforth working women in private sector may soon be entitled to 26-week maternity leave under the newly yet to be passed mandate called ‘The Model Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2016’.

Though most of the public sector women employees enjoy a 6 month maternity leave, the private sector women employees enjoy only 12-week of maternity leave. In many cases, women working in this industry are sacked for extending their maternity leave and are not even entitled to full pay during it. However, in recent times some companies like Flipkart have announced generous maternity benefits policy to attract women workers.

However the issue will be taken up for discussion in the cabinet and the ministry will conclude with its discussion in the monsoon session of the parliament. Also the ministry has also emphasized on the “work from home” option as compulsory for the women in the private sector.

Speaking to the press, Labor Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said, “This is a pro-women law. Besides, it will help in employment generation. This will help increase women participation in the workforce. The law also allows women to work in night (shifts). There is provision for all facilities for women like drinking water, lavatory, crèche, first aid and security”. Also clarifying about paternity leave for new fathers, he said, “The Bill is about mothers and children. It is not about the men.”

If this mandate comes into effect by providing a 26-week maternity leave for women, India will join the rank of 16 countries which provide the longest paid maternity leave. But not all of the companies in private sector have stringent 12 week maternity leave policy.

For example, companies like Flipkart, Accenture, Tata Group, Deutsche Bank, HCL Technologies, Hindustan Unilever, Snapdeal, Flipkart, Microsoft etc recognize the importance of giving a 6 month paid maternity leave. In most of the above companies, work from home option is well availed by new mothers and also other facilities like crèche, flexible work hours, less responsibilities etc to help them through motherhood.

As per a survey titled ‘Second Innings’ by CII’s Indian Women’s Network, 37% of the working women quit their careers at their prime as they are expected to be mothers first. Most of the 37% of ex-women employees complained of how the companies failed to support them adequately during the period which lead to low performances, distracted minds due to constant worrying about their infants, less organizational support and more pressure on work and the inevitable peer pressure.

In a recent survey it was found that women workforce has eroded as much 10 percent in last 10 years in India, more than any other country in the world. If this new law comes into effect, it will surely have a positive effect on number of women working – as pregnancy is one of the main reasons, due to which women decide to take a break from working, sometimes even permanently!

With more and more women taking up employment and outperforming their counterparts, it’s about time we change the way we look at the new mothers and cut them some slack during the first few months of motherhood.

Many companies are now also giving new fathers more paternity leave to indulge themselves in the job of infant parenting. Also with more support from the fathers, new mothers working in the broad minded companies are excelling in their fields.

The new law is the need of the hour. Now this is women empowerment.

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