The Maternity Benefit Act was introduced in 1961, with the objective of regulating the employment of women in certain establishments for certain periods before and after child-birth and to provide for maternity benefit and certain other benefits.
However, a bill for amending the Act, was introduced in the Lok Sabha, on August 11, 2016 by the Minister of Labor and Employment, Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya. This amendment is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more people, and will help 1.8 million women in the organized sector. It is expected that the amendment will be passed in the Lok Sabha in the Winter Session, and receive Presidential assent thereafter.
The amendment recognizes the economic rationale of women's participation in India’s economy. A plethora of studies have highlighted the importance of involving half of India’s population in measurable economic activities.
Highlights of the latest Amendment Bill
In order to protect employment related issues of women during the time of her maternity the following amendments are introduced;
per the Act the maximum period for which any woman is
entitled to maternity benefit is 12 weeks. However,
according to the bill, a woman with two surviving children
shall be entitled to maternity benefits for 26 weeks.
However, for a woman with more than two children the period
for maternity benefits shall continue to be 12 weeks.