Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017
|Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017|
|An Act to protect the employment of women during the time of her maternity n entitles her of a ‘maternity benefit’ – i.e. full paid absence from work – to take care for her child.|
|Enacted by||Parliament of India|
|Date assented to||27 March 2017|
|Date commenced||01 April 2017|
|Status: In force|
The Maternity (Amendment) Bill 2017,an amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, was passed in Rajya Sabha on August 11, 2016; in Lok Sabha on March 09, 2017, and received an assent from President of India on March 27, 2017.
The provisions of The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 are effective from April 1, 2017. However, provision on crèche facility (Section 111 A) shall be effective from July 1, 2017.
The Maternity Benefit Act 1961 protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a ‘maternity benefit’ – i.e. full paid absence from work – to take care for her child. The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more employees.
The Act is applicable to all establishments which are factories, mines, plantations, Government establishments, shops and establishments under the relevant applicable legislations, or any other establishment as may be notified by the Central Government.
As per the Act, to be eligible for maternity benefit, a woman must have been working as an employee in an establishment for a period of at least 80 days in the past 12 months. Payment during the leave period is based on the average daily wage for the period of actual absence.
- Increased Paid Maternity Leave:
The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act has increased the duration of paid maternity leave available for women employees from the existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks. Under the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, this benefit could be availed by women for a period extending up to a maximum of 8 weeks before the expected delivery date and the remaining time can be availed post childbirth. For women who are expecting after having 2 children, the duration of paid maternity leave shall be 12 weeks (i.e., 6 weeks pre and 6 weeks post expected date of delivery).
- Maternity leave for adoptive and commissioning mothers:
Maternity leave of 12 weeks to be available to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months from the date of adoption as well as to the “commissioning mothers”. The commissioning mother has been defined as biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo planted in any other woman.
- Work from Home option:
The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act has also introduced an enabling provision relating to "work from home" for women, which may be exercised after the expiry of the 26 weeks' leave period. Depending upon the nature of work, women employees may be able to avail this benefit on terms that are mutually agreed with the employer.
- Crèche facility:
The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act makes crèche facility mandatory for every establishment employing 50 or more employees. Women employees would be permitted to visit the crèche 4 times during the day (including rest intervals)
The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act makes it mandatory for employers to educate women about the maternity benefits available to them at the time of their appointment.
- Gender discrimination against women having childbearing age:
Policy design is important and making such leave an employer mandate, as in India, ensures employers will discriminate against women of childbearing age. Additional requirements like creche facilities require more capital and operating expenditure. It won’t come as a surprise that some companies in India might shy away from hiring young women. When they do, the women might face a reduction in compensation as firms compensate for higher lifetime costs.
- Types of burden on the employer:
Employers have to bear the entire cost of providing leave to employees—in terms of both continued pay while on leave, as well as the indirect cost of having to get the work done by employing other workers to finish the work of the absent employee. Also, it increases the cost of temporary training provided to the employee which is employed on behalf of the absent employee.
- Women will lose their jobs:
Regarding how the bulk of employment is in the informal sector, Teamlease estimates, that 11-18 lakh jobs for women will be lost because of the implementation of the Act, over the first four years. 
- Financial burden only on employer:
In most countries, the cost of maternity leave is shared by the government, employer, insurance agency and other social security programmes. In Singapore, for example, the employer bears the cost for 8 weeks and public funds for 8 weeks. In Australia and Canada, public funds bear the full cost. A social insurance scheme bears the cost in France. In Brazil, it shared by the employer, employee and the government.
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