Latest Posts


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Cabinet may give go-ahead to labour ministry proposal of extending maternity leave to 26 weeks

The Union Cabinet may soon give its go-ahead to a labour ministry proposal to extend maternity leave to 26 weeks from 12 weeks. Mothers who use surrogates to bear a child and women adopting a baby could also get 12 weeks of maternity leave.

Extending maternity leave is in sync with benefits available to central government employees and has been done to enable mothers breastfeed their child for at least six months and help reduce high rates of child malnutrition in the country, a senior government official told ET.

"We have substantially enhanced benefits under the Maternity Act. This is likely to be approved by the Cabinet soon, after which it will go to Parliament as it requires amendment in the Act," the official told ET on condition of anonymity. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, presently entitles women to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave.

According to the official, the amendment bill is unlikely to face resistance in Parliament as the ministry has held consultations with stakeholders for such sweeping changes that would benefit a large number of working women. 

Women with government jobs in India get a six-month maternity leave, as per the Central Civil Service (Leave) Rules, 1972. The last circular in this regard was issued in 2008, when it was increased from four-and-a-half months. 

The International Labour Organisation recommends a standard maternity leave of 14 weeks or more, though it encourages member states to increase it to at least 18 weeks. At 26 weeks, India is set to join a league of 42 countries where maternity leave exceeds 18 weeks. It, however, falls behind several East European, Central Asian and Scandinavian countries, which have more generous paid maternity leave. 

The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for babies up to six months old, saying it reduces child mortality and has proven health benefits that extend into adulthood. Yet, only 47% of Indian mothers exclusively breastfeed for the first six months, compared with 70% in neighbouring Nepal and 76% in Sri Lanka. 

No comments:

Post a Comment