Maternity Bill: A Blessing For Working Mothers

Tuesday, 16 May

It is truly a blessing to all the female employees attempting to keep their feet in their occupation market, even with new motherhood challenges. Until now, the ending of the paid leave period of three months after the birth of the child was the start of a latest set of adversity for them – making appropriate arrangements for child daycare , rushing to home from work to spend quality moments with the babies, running around in times of emergencies and tumbling to bits with the emotional, physical, and mental anxiety.

Now there is a reason to cheer for all moms eager to proceeding with their career track. Yet somewhat late, but this women’s day, the call to empower and support women has not only been an agreement. The Maternity Benefit Bill, 2016, which was passed in August 2016 in the Rajya Sabha, has been passed in the Lok Sabha too in March 2017. This bill is a modification to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, which ensures the employment of females and authorize them for full-paid nonattendance from work to take care of their kids. There are some groundbreaking clauses in the Bill to drive a positive change for working women.

Below are some essential provisions of the Maternity bill and what it means for the companies.

The Maternity Benefit Bill tries to give maternity leave of 26 weeks from the present 12 weeks for the working women. The bill additionally provides for leave up to 12 weeks for a lady who adopts a baby up to the age of three months, and for commissioning moms. The new bill will apply to all foundations employing at least 10 people and the entitlement will be for just up to first two kids. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, ensures the work of a woman amid the time of her maternity and entitles her full paid nonattendance from work, to take care of her infant.

What is its Meaning for the Companies?

Now around 54% of organizations as of now provide six months and a greater amount of maternity leave. This is in accordance with the new bill. Of the remaining, 23% have extended it for three months. It is this 23% which needs to now move to expanding the leave time period to 26 weeks.

What is amazing is that among nations that have continuing maternity leave benefits, India is the only nation where the sole burden of subsidizing of this advantage is on the Employer. 'There is no Government subsidy or commitment from public funds towards this advantage. Thus to guarantee a higher profit ROI, organizations need to concentrate on post maternity support.

While employment is secured amid maternity, there should be accuracy on which role she will come back to. Will it be a similar role, a project based role, another role or with respect to the bench? Such ambiguities should be minimized for a returning mother`

The bill has made day care facility compulsory in respect of initiations with 50 or more employees.

What is its Meaning for the Companies?

Around 63% of working ladies left their jobs mentioning childcare as the major reason yet just 34% organizations gave childcare support (11% in-house crèche, 6% close site tie-up and 17% gave repayment support). Of the staying, 20% organizations had an arrangement in advance and 46% organizations were having a wait and watch approach.

With the execution of the Maternity Bill, organizations should make provisions for this advantage for working parents. While this clause as yet unclear on the way of course of action and quality measures of the crèche, organizations need to evaluate different models ranging from high responsibility onsite childcare facility to low responsibility near site/multi-site tie up the structure. There is no one size fits all approach for this situation. Organizations should choose their childcare procedure and take off arrangement, whether it would be for HQ alone or with the given employee headcount definition a few sales offices will also be secured.

Employers will have to permit women staff to visit the daycare(or take the nursing break) four times, which also includes her rest period.

What is its Meaning for the Companies?

All the managers need to be aware of this facility so that no insensitive remarks are passed around this break. In the case of a childcare tie-up outside the office province, the company will have to check the breastfeeding facilities provided in the office.

The bill also enables ‘work from home’ for feeding mothers once the leave period ends.

What is its Meaning for the Companies?

Face time and physical presence and this will require companies to adapt their ways of working. There is also a need to make these policies inclusive, as employees (both men and women) require work from home option at different points in their career lifecycle.

All companies should have a work from home policy and enable it for roles that are feasible to this. It is likewise and possibly a manager discussion scheduled where the work from home purpose for the role would need to be discussed.

There are around 60% organizations that have work from home policy and 63% women working need this advantage from their companies. All the companies should have a work from home facility for roles that are possible to be done from home. It will likewise require a discussion with the manager to make this applicable and an implementable practice in the companies. Organizations in India used to face physical and time presence and this will require organizations to adapt their methods for working. There is additionally a need to make these policies comprehensive, as employees (both men and ladies) require work from home alternative at various points in their career.

The maternity bill needs an establishment to notify a woman of all the advantages made available under the law, at the time of her recruitment. Such information must be provided electronically and in writing.

What is its Meaning for the Companies?

All companies should essentially have a Maternity policy as against just saying "We follow the act". Additionally, managers should know about the maternity provisions while handing over the policy note to each woman appointed.

A successful execution of the amendments will guarantee that the bill works for its motive of protecting women’s interest at work. The amended bill needs some calibrating or considerations to be more impactful, however, what can be expressed without challenge is that passing of this bill is a "small step for working moms yet a big step for womankind"!!!

Benedicta D’costa

Benedicta D’costa is an avid blogger of the leading child care organization, Early Birds-The Corporate Day Care with a rich experience of handling young children and engaging with them. Benedicta writes frequently about the “child welfare and development” and the real-life challenges faced at the workplaces: from the stress of being working parents to pressure of increasing productivity for an employer, and everything in between.
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"A mother’s joy begins when new life is stirring inside, when a tiny heartbeat is heard for the very first time, and a playful kick reminds her that she is never alone"