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Pregnant Working Women To Get 26 Weeks Of Maternity Leave; Pending Bill Passed In Lok Sabha


New Delhi: A day after International women’s day called for a bigger celebration, as one would always remember it for the increment in the number of days a new mother can give to her new born, which have been raised from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. This provision holds true for an establishment with 10 or more employees.

Earlier, pregnant working women had no option but either to leave job after delivery, or to join office after 3 months of maternity leave. But now that the long pending Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was finally passed in Lok Sabha on March 9, they no longer have to sacrifice their precious time for the baby. After 4 hours of debate in the parliament, India managed to stand at third position in terms of providing maternity leave to women.

The new law is valid for the first two children and a woman will not be entitled to it at the time of third childbirth. She will continue to get 12 weeks of maternity leave in that case. This new bill was passed in Rajya Sabha in August 2016 and after receiving a green signal from Lok Sabha on Thursday, it is ready to become an act after President also gives his assent. If it comes into force, it would provide relief to nearly 18 lakh pregnant women working in the country. Employers who do no adhere to it can face 3-6 months of punishment and Rs 5,000 as fine.

Under this bill, it also lays provision for a woman who legally adopts a baby less than 3 months old and for those who choose surrogacy to bring child in this world. These mothers will get 12 weeks of maternity leaves to develop bond with the new baby. Moreover, women who wish to work from home after their maternity leaves are over, can ask their employers for it and mutually decide the period depending on the type of job they do.

Significantly, establishments with more than 50 employees or 30 women, whichever is less, should have a crèche facility within a radius of 500-metre, where mother should be allowed to visit four times a day which includes her interval break.

Some members of the parliament even demanded for paternity leaves giving reasons of increase in the number of nuclear families. At present, Canada is number one country for providing maximum number of paid maternity leave- 50 and Norway grabs the second position with 44 in number.

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