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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Govt should also provide paternity leave to help men participate in child-rearing

The passage of the amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, by the Rajya Sabha improving the working conditions of women with newborn children is welcome. The government needs to do away with the differentiation between natural, adoptive and commissioning mothers when it comes to leave for infant care: the infant’s need for care is the same regardless of its circumstance of birth. Thought also must apply to extending these benefits to women working in the unorganised sector where the bulk of working women toil.
There are some 1.8 million women in the organised sector. By increasing maternity leave to 26 weeks, it bridges the gap between women in private and public organisations — government institutions already provide for a longer maternity leave. The proposal requiring establishments with 50 or more employees to provide for crèche facilities will enable women to pursue their professional goals, contribute to the workplace, without shortchanging on child care. Given the importance of the first six months in an infant’s life, these measures would enable healthier children. The Bill provides for an option allowing young mothers to work from home, the details of which arrangement will have to be worked out by employers. The government says it would discuss with the states on ways to extend the benefits to women in the unorganised sector, comprising roughly 100 million women. The best solution is to bring ever-larger chunks of the unorganised sector into the organised sector. For that, regulation that dissuades formal employment must change.
The Bill reflects the changing reality, with more women working, and from nuclear families. In this spirit, the government should also consider providing for paternity leave to enable men to participate in child-rearing. 
Source:-The Economic Times

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