14 Mar 2017, 14:45 — 5 min read
Women’s Day has brought cheer to working women in India. A day after Women’s Day, on 9th March 2017, the Lok Sabha passed a bill to increase maternity leave to 26 weeks from 12 weeks at present. The Maternity Benefit Amendment Bill protects the employment of women during maternity and paves the way for ensuring that women do not leave the workforce due to the demands of motherhood. The law will apply to all establishments employing 10 or more people and the entitlement will be for the first two children. For the third child, the entitlement will be 12 weeks.
Maneka Gandhi, Women & Child Development Minister said, "I am very, very happy we have made history today. This will help thousands of women and produce much healthier children. We have been working on it for a long time."
India is a developing country and it is focused on strengthening the corporate sector. Men & women are both contributing towards the development of the Indian economy. Women are no longer relegated to household chores; they are working in corporates, institutions, organisations and many other fields.
To encourage the welfare of women and to take care of their health, the Indian government has enacted various legislations. Maternity benefit is an important scheme for women, which plays an important role for the welfare of women and ensures that they do not leave the workforce when starting a family. For providing maternity benefit, there are two enactments in India. One is the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 and the second is the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948. In both the Acts, a woman who is qualified to claim maternity benefits shall be entitled to receive wages at the daily rate for all days on which she does not work for remuneration during a period of twelve weeks of which not more than six weeks shall precede the expected date of confinement. Government of India has decided to increase this period from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for which a bill “the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016” was presented last year and the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, gave its ex-post facto approval to it. This Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on 9th March, 2017.
Meanwhile the Central Government has notified an amendment rules to Employees’ State Insurance (Central) Rules, 1950. And the Employees’ State Insurance (Central) Amendment Rules, 2017 has come into force on 20th January, 2017. The following changes have been made by this amendment:
1. Insertion of definition of the expression “insured woman”
“Insured woman” means a woman who is or was an employee in respect of whom contribution is or were payable under the Act and who is by reason thereof, entitled to any of the benefits provided under the Act and shall include–
(i) A commissioning mother who as biological mother wishes to have a child and prefers to get embryo implanted in any other woman
(ii) A woman who legally adopts a child of up to three months of age
2. Maximum period of maternity benefit has been increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks
In rule 56, in sub-rule (2) –
(i) for the words “twelve weeks of which not more than six weeks”, the words “twenty-six weeks of which not more than eight weeks” shall be substituted
(ii) after the first proviso, the following provisos shall be inserted, namely:
“Provided further that the insured woman shall be entitled to twelve weeks of maternity benefit from the date the child is handed over to the commissioning mother after birth or adopting mother, as the case may be:
Provided also that the insured woman having two or more than two surviving children shall be entitled to receive maternity benefits during a period of twelve weeks of which not more than six weeks shall precede the expected date of confinement.”
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