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Govt Brings Labour Reforms, Maternity Leave Extended To 26 Weeks; More Overtime Hours Approved For Workers

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LAbour Reforms

Govt. of India has introduced a slew of labor reforms which will benefit all employees and workers in the organized sector. Besides paving way for creation of new jobs, these amendments in the Factories Act, 1948 and The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 will encourage conversion of unorganized sector into organized sector, thereby pushing our economy as a whole.

Bonanza For New Mothers

The Cabinet has given ex-post facto approval to amendments of The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 which will now allow mothers to claim 26 weeks of maternity leaves, which was limited to 12 earlier. This Act was created for providing protection to mothers during pregnancy and to ensure their full salary during their absence from work.

This new amendment would now allow 26 weeks of maternity leaves for every women till two children, and then 12 weeks for children after that. Besides, 12 weeks of maternity leaves would be provided to ‘Commissioning mother’ and ‘Adopting mother’ as well.

The amendment also ensures that in case an establishment has 50 or more employees, then the employer has to provide mandatory creche facilities.

These new rules will benefit around 1.8 million women workers all over the country.

Interestingly, once new bill was passed, some women MPs also demanded paternity leaves for fathers, something which is absent in India. Although in 1999, Centre allowed male employees to take 15 days of paternity leave, but no law exist regarding the same.

Rajya Sabha Member Anu Aga said, “Men leave the burden of bringing up kids to women. By bringing in paternity leave, we can sensitise them on bringing up children,”

More Overtime Hours Approved

Yesterday, Bandaru Dattatreya, who is the Labour Minister, introduced the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Lok Sabha, which seeks approval for allocating more overtime hours to workers, so that more jobs can be created.

The amendments are aimed towards changing Section 64 and Section 65 of the Factories Act, 1948 which deals with the overtime hours.

As per the amendments, Govt. wants to increase overtime hours to 100 per week from current 50 hours per week. In fact, Govt. wants to increase the total overtime hours to 125 per week, but those changes would be incorporated once the entire Factories Act, 1948 is changed by the Parliament.

Every organization having 10 or more employees can now allocate 100 hours of overtime for their employees which will ensure more productivity and more employment opportunities for all.

However, as per the regulations of International Labour Organization, no employee can be asked for work for more than 12 hours in a single shift. This was mentioned by the Labour Minister for ensuring employee’s welfare.

The proposed amendments also empower Central Govt. to introduce labour welfare rules, which were earlier limited to only state govts. Left parties are opposing to some sections of this new amendment.

In the month of June, Govt. had introduced another major labour reform when shops, factories and commercial establishments were allowed to be open 24*7.

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