A bill providing for enhancement of maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks was on Thursday, in a step aimed at benefitting about 1.8 million women in the organised sector and increasing the strength of the working women force.
Once the law is enacted, India will jump to third position in terms of the number of weeks for maternity leave after Norway (44) and Canada (50), said Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya while replying to a debate on the legislation.
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed by voice vote by the House, even as some members sought norms for paternity leave also so that parents can share the responsibility of raising children.
The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her to fully paid absence from work, to take care for her child.
The new law will be applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more people.
FICCI ladies Organisation said this initiative would be a good step towards finding solutions to retain female employees and simultaneously it would also be a strengthening move towards increased return to work post-maternity and greater employee retention in the long run.