SKP Business Alert
Volume 8 Issue 6 |
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 11 August 2016 by the Minister of Labour and Employment. 

The Bill amends the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, which regulates the employment of women during the period of childbirth and provides maternity benefits. The Act applies to all factories, mines, plantations, shops and other establishments. 

A brief comparison between the existing law and the proposed amendments related to the duration and applicability of maternity leave and other facilities to be provided by the employer after the birth of the child is given below.

Maternity benefits will mean the payment to female employees for the period of her actual absence during maternity.

Particulars Existing law New law
Duration of maternity leave Every woman will be entitled to maternity benefit of 12 weeks. The Bill increases this period to 26 weeks.
This maternity benefit should not be availed before 6 weeks from the date of expected delivery.  The Bill changes this period to 8 weeks.
  In the case of a woman who has two or more children, the maternity benefit will continue to be 12 weeks, which cannot be availed before 6 weeks from the date of the expected delivery.
Maternity leave for adoptive and commissioning mothers No provision The Bill introduces a provision to grant 12 weeks of maternity leave to:
  • A woman who legally adopts a child below 3 months of age; and
  • A commissioning mother.  A commissioning mother is defined as “a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in another woman."
The 12-week period of maternity benefit will be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the adoptive or commissioning mother.
Option to work from home No provision The Bill introduces a new provision that states that an employer may permit a woman to work from home. This would apply if the nature of work assigned to the woman employee permits her to work from home. 
This option can be availed of after the period of maternity leave, for a duration that is mutually decided by the employer and the woman employee.
Crèche facilities No provision The Bill introduces a provision which requires every establishment with 50 or more employees to provide crèche facilities within a prescribed distance. The woman will be allowed four visits to the crèche in a day. This will include her interval for rest.
Informing women employees of the right to maternity leave No provision The Bill introduces a provision which requires every establishment to intimate a woman of the maternity benefits available to her at the time of her appointment. Such communication must be in writing and electronically.
SKP's comments
Maternal care for a child during the period of its initial growth is essential to the child’s development and growth. Women’s role as a mother should not be in conflict with her professional aspirations and growth. The amendment will help protect the employment of women during the time of maternity and entitles them to a paid absence from work to take care of their child. 

It is applicable to all the establishments employing 10 or more persons and this amendment will help approximately 1.8 million women in the organised sector. Female employees covered under the Employees State Insurance Scheme, 1948 are exempt from the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. The amendment mentioned above is currently a proposed amendment. The actual amendment will be applicable only after receiving the official Gazette Notification from the Labour department which will be published only after it receives the assent of the Honourable President of India.
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