New Delhi: In a step to benefit about 1.8 million women in the organised sector and aiming to increase the strength of the working women force, a bill increasing maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks was passed by the Rajya Sabha. It also facilitates ‘work from home’ for nursing mothers once the leave period ends and has made creche facility mandatory in respect of establishments with 50 or more employees.
Once the new law is enacted, India will jump to third position in terms of the number of weeks for maternity leave after Norway (44) and Canada (50), labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya said while replying to a debate on the legislation. He also said a maternity bonus of up to Rs 3,500 will also be given to women staff.
The bill, which will now go to the Lok Sabha, will lead to the ratification of International Labour Organisation convention number 183 that provides for at least 14 weeks of maternity benefit to women. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed by voice vote, even as some members sought norms for paternity leave so that parents can share the responsibility of raising children.