Government to refund employers for seven weeks of maternity leave given to employees

The Union Women and Child Development Ministry announced on November 15, 2018 that the government will refund the employers the salaries for the first seven of the 26 weeks of maternity leave for women earning more than Rs 15,000 a month.

The Ministry’s decision came in the wake of complaints that many companies were reluctant to hire pregnant women after maternity leave was extended from 12 to 26 weeks and some were even firing women employees.

Key Highlights

The decision covers both the government as well as the private sector.

The government has decided to utilise the funds lying in the labour welfare cess to pay the employers.

The utilisation of the cess lying with the state governments has been very less.

Hence, the government decided after talks with the Labour Ministry that the seven of the 26 weeks of maternity leave for all women employees in the private and government sector getting more than Rs 15,000 a month would be paid from that fund.

The maternity leave for pregnant women was extended from 12 weeks to 26 weeks in 2017.

Background

The Lok Sabha on March 10, 2018 had passed the Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill, 2016, paving the way for doubling of the maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.

The Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament passed the bill in August 2017 during the monsoon session.

The bill, strongly supported by the women and child development ministry, increased maternity benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and is aimed at benefitting about 1.8 million women in the organised sector.

Post the bill’s passing, India’s position rose to the third place in terms of the number of weeks given for maternity leave, after Canada (50) and Norway (44).

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