All establishments, including in private sector, will have to provide 26-week maternity leave to their women employees under a new bill, which the government plans to push in the upcoming Monsoon Session, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said today.
While there is already a provision of 26-week or six- month maternity leave for the government employees, most private sector firms offer maximum three months of such leave. Besides, these benefits are not provided at all in many smaller establishments.
Speaking to reporters here, the Minister said the new Maternity Benefit Bill, which seeks to enhance maternity leave to 26 weeks from existing 12 weeks, will be shortly taken up by the Cabinet for approval and the Ministry will push it for passage in the Monsoon session of Parliament.
He, however, appeared to rule out making it mandatory to provide work-from-home option to the working mothers.
“There are certain establishments where they can get (the permission to work from home). But in other establishments they will get the facility of (26 weeks maternity leave) after amendment in the Act,” Dattatreya said.
He was replying to a query about the steps being taken by his Ministry to promote the concept of work from home to increase women participation in the workforce.
Asked about the paternity leave and other benefits for fathers, the Minister said, “The Bill is about mothers and children. It is not about the men.”
The Minister also said that the model law that allows shops, malls and cinema halls, among other establishments, to run 24×7 throughout the year will increase women participation in the workforce as it allows them to work in night shits.
“The is a pro-women law. Besides, it will help in employment generation. This will help increase women participation in the workforce,” the Minister said.
The Model Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2016, was approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday.
“The law also allows women to work in night (shifts).. There is provision for all facilities for women like drinking water, lavatory, creche, first aid and security,” he said.
The Model law also provides for creches if the establishment has 30 women/50 workers.
While adopting the model law, the states can modify it as per their requirements.