The latest amendments in India’s Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 after passing of the Maternity Benefit Amendment Bill, 2016 puts it in the same league as the international rules and regulations. However, some of these proposed changes will have a direct impact on the hiring process. Let us delve deep into the details.
A look at the pivotal changes:
- Increased duration of paid maternity leaves to 26 weeks from 12 weeks
- Paid surrogacy leave for a period of 12 weeks from the day when the child gets handed over
- Paid adoption leave for a period of 12 weeks from the day when the child gets handed over on the condition that he/she is not more than 3 months old
- Work from home is applicable after maternity leave period after both the employer and female employee have arrived at a mutual agreement on the terms and conditions front
- Employers having 50 or more employees recruited need to have a crèche in the premises
- Mothers can visit the crèche only four times in a day including the rest interval facilitated to them
- Employers are obligated to inform every new woman employee via print and electronic mediums about their rights under the Maternity Benefit Act
- Female employee with ‘TWO’ or more surviving child will receive paid maternity leaves for a period of only 12 weeks. This provision was earlier present in not many States and now has been made a part of the central legislation.
- Eligibility criteria for receiving the benefits
- Employers cannot employ a woman for a period of ‘SIX’ weeks immediately following the delivery, medical pregnancy termination or a miscarriage
The impact of the amendments on HR practices
There has been a mixed review by the industries across sectors. Large organizations have welcomed the changes and some employers have been already providing benefits beyond what the Maternity Benefits Act had stated. It is the micro, small and medium organizations who are saying that the increase in paid maternity leaves’ duration along with the demand of establishing a crèche will bring cost increases. People are even apprehending that these financial burdens may even lead to lesser recruitment of female employees.