NEW DELHI: A new bill that seeks to raise maternity leave to 26 weeks from 12 weeks may add some cost to employers, but it will motivate women employees to work harder and boost their participation in workforce, a top government official said today.
Yesterday, the Union Cabinet gave ex-post facto approval to the amendments made to the Maternity Benefits Act that aims to raise maternity leave for women from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. "We are introducing a law which will provide better maternity benefits to women. We are enhancing maternity leaves from 12 weeks to 26 weeks," Labour Secretary Shankar Aggarwal said at a retail summit organised by the Retailers Association of India.
Stating that there are views that this will add to employer cost because of paid leaves, he said: "There is no doubt about that, but that will motivate your women employees to work harder and give better productivity". He said the government has come up with a model Shops and Establishments Act that allows women to work in night shift and asked the retailers to ensure safety of women workforce.
The official highlighted that government has introduced a new bill that allows workers to have overtime of up to 100 hours per quarter from the earlier 50 hours. That apart, the government has enacted a law on child labour under which no child below 14 can be employed.
The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a full paid absence from work, to take care for her child. It is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons and the amendments will help around 1.8 million women workforce in the organised sector.
The amendments include increasing maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two children, 12 weeks maternity leave to a 'Commissioning mother' and 'Adopting mother' and mandatory provision of creche in respect of establishment having 50 or more employees, an official statement had said.
Talking about the retail, Aggarwal said the sector can play an important role in creating decent job opportunities by expanding their presence in small towns. He assured full government support to make the sector globally competitive in terms of quality and pricing, while asking retailers to help young professionals in setting up their own enterprises.
Aggarwal said India is the fastest growing economy in the world, but felt that growth needs to be inclusive by bringing SC/STs, women and minorities in the mainstream.