Women working in the organised sector will now be entitled to paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, up from 12 weeks, as Parliament on Thursday passed a bill in this regard that will benefit about 1.8 million women.
Historic day for women as extension of Maternity Leave from existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks gets approved by Lok Sabha. #MaternityBill— Ministry of WCD (@MinistryWCD) March 9, 2017
The new law will apply to all establishments employing 10 or more people and the entitlement will be for only up to first two children. For third child, the entitlement will be for only 12 weeks.
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed by the Lok Sabha, months after the Rajya Sabha approved the measure that takes India to the third position in terms of the number of weeks for maternity leave after Canada and Norway where it is 50 weeks and 44 weeks, respectively.
The Bill also provides for maternity leave of 12 weeks to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to commissioning mothers. It also makes it mandatory for every establishment with more than 50 employees to provide creche facilities within a prescribed distance.
Maternity leave up to 12 weeks for commissioning mothers & women who adopt a child below the age of 3 months. #MaternityBill— Ministry of WCD (@MinistryWCD) March 9, 2017
Piloting amendments to the old law, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said while framing the rules, he would try to ensure that maximum benefits reach the pregnant women.
"This is my humble gift to women, a day after the world celebrated the International Women's Day," he said after about 4-hour debate during which some members demanded paternity benefits too, arguing that these days most of the children are born in nuclear families where both the father and the mother have to take care of the child.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi hailed the passage of Maternity Bill, calling it a "historic" decision.