Important Topics for UPSC 2017 Exams​ (Amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961)

Important Topics for UPSC 2017 Exams​ (Amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961)

What is the Act all about?

  • Maternity benefit Act 1961 protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a 'maternity benefit' - i.e. full paid absence from work - to take care for her child.
    The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons.
  • The amendments will help 1.8 million women workforce in organised sector.

What are the Amendments?

  • Increase Maternity Benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two childern.
  • 12 weeks Maternity Benefit to a 'Commissioning mother' and 'Adopting mother'.
  • Facilitate 'Work from home'.
  • Mandatory provision of Creche in respect of establishment having 50 or more employees.
  • Obligation to notify: An obligation on employers to inform (in writing and electronically) to every woman newly appointed within the organization about the benefits available under the MB Act.

Why these Amendments?

  • Maternal care to the Child during early childhood - crucial for growth and development of the child.
  • The 44th, 45th and 46th Indian Labour Conference recommended enhancement of Maternity Benefits to 24 weeks.
  • Ministry of Women & Child Development proposed to enhance Maternity Benefit to 8 months.
  • In Tripartite consultations, all stake holders, in general supported the amendment proposal.

Analysis and Major Issue

  • As per WHO, 24 weeks of maternity leave is essential to secure mother and child health.
  • However, since the costs of this leave are to be borne by the employer, it may have an adverse impact on job opportunities for women.
  • Different countries have different funding models in relation to maternity benefits. In some countries the employer bears the cost, while in some others it is paid by the government.
  • Since women are allowed to have 26 weeks of maternity leave for two children, the period of leave for a third child will be 12 weeks. This could affect the growth and development of the third born child.
  • It includes women workers employed in organised sector only. However, a majority of the women labourforce, who are in the unorganised sectors, may not be covered. financing of such benefits.

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