Extended Maternity Leave for Working Ladies

Maternity Benefit Amendment Bill 2016 Passed in Rajya Sabha

Maternity Benefit Amendment Bill 2016 Passed in Rajya Sabha

On 10th August 2016 Rajya Sabha passed an amendment to be made to Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. It needs to be said in this context that this amendment was much-awaited and can also be regarded as a landmark of sorts whereby ladies will now get maternity leaves of 26 weeks in their workplaces. This amendment shall also enable commissioning mothers to get maternity leaves of 12 weeks. Commissioning mothers are ladies who are playing the role of surrogate mothers. They may also be ones who have adopted babies who are younger than three months.

In case of nursing mothers the provision of work from home is expected to be introduced as well. Nursing mothers will be getting 26 weeks of maternity leave. The working from home facility can be availed after that. However, that will depend on the nature of their work. In such cases both the lady in question and her employer need to mutually decide the period for which the work from home facility will be availed. The bill has also received approval from the union cabinet, led by Narendra Modi, on 9th August.

How will it be implemented?

The act is supposed to be applicable for any and every organization that employs more than 10 people and this includes the private sector enterprises as well. It is expected to help more than 1.8 million ladies working in organizations of different sizes across the country. The bill is expected to be sent to Lok Sabha, where it is expected to enjoy a smooth passage considering the absolute majority enjoyed by NDA. Once it is passed the union labour ministry shall notify one and all regarding the changes. Presently working ladies are entitled to maternity leaves of 12 weeks including the period before childbirth and afterwards. The extra 14 weeks coming their way is no doubt going to be a major boost for them.


This benefit however comes with exceptions. Ladies who have already given birth to two children or more will not get more than 12 weeks of maternity leave.

Measures for ladies

A number of measures, meant to benefit ladies, have also been proposed in the abovementioned amendment. From now on organizations that have more than 50 employees may have to compulsorily set up crèches. Even if some companies within a predetermined distance wish to set up a common facility for crèche it will be welcome. Employers will also need to permit four visits in a day to the said crèche and this is inclusive of the rest period meant for lady employees.

Governmental views

The government of India feels that for the child to grow and develop optimally it is very important that they receive proper maternal care in their early childhood. In the 44th, 45th, and 46th meetings of Indian Labour Conference it has been suggested that maternity leave be extended to 24 weeks. The ministry of women and child development had proposed that the said period be taken up to 8 weeks. Interestingly enough, the government has no plans in place for men going to become fathers and has not taken any similar action with regards to paternity leave for such individuals.

Implications for private firms

At the moment the maximum period of maternity leave allowed to ladies working in privately-owned companies is three months. In many of the smaller organizations such benefits are not available at all. So, perhaps this amendment will benefit at least some of those women.