Hyderabad: Tesco Bengaluru, the technology and retail operations division of British supermarkets chain Tesco Plc, on Tuesday said it has enhanced maternity leave from 12 to 22 weeks.
Tesco joins a growing number of private and public sector employers that are tweaking maternity policies to comply with the upcoming Maternity Benefit Act 2016 that extends maternity leave to 26 weeks from 12 weeks, among other pro-women employee measures.
“The policy stipulates maternity leave for women colleagues to paid leave of 22 weeks from the previous 12 weeks and an additional 1 month for illness arising out of pregnancy,” Tesco said in a statement.
Tesco will also extend paid maternity leave benefits to women employees who have opted for alternative routes of motherhood like surrogacy and adoption. The company said the new mothers can also take extended maternity leave (EML) that supports an additional six months’ unpaid leave over and above the maternity leave of 22 weeks.
“Women also have bandwidth to take 6 weeks leave for miscarriage and medical termination of pregnancy and 2 weeks for a tubectomy,” the company said.
The paternity leave has also been extended from 5 to 10 days.
The policy will come into effect from 1 November and also benefit all women employees currently on maternity leave.
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 – passed by Rajya Sabha on 11 August, is expected to be cleared by the Lok Sabha in the winter session.
The bill seeks to increase maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children. The law will be applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more people.
The bill also provides 12 weeks’ leave for commissioning and adopting mothers and makes it mandatory to provide creche facility for establishments where the number of workers is 50 and above. At present, the maternity benefit act does not provide any maternity leave for commissioning or adopting mothers.
Several companies such as Bharti Airtel Ltd, Microsoft India, Flipkart Ltd, HCL Technologies Ltd, Godrej Industries Ltd, Nestle India Ltd and Hindustan Unilever Ltd, among others have started offering extended paid maternity leave for women employees in tune with the proposed maternity bill.
In a recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) study - India was found to be one of the few countries where women’s participation in the formal labour force has declined, and drastically so – from 37% in 2004–05 to 29% by 2009–10. Within the G20, women’s labour force participation in India and Turkey tie for the second lowest, above only Saudi Arabia, a country in which there are severe constraints on women’s mobility.
The report suggested that a liberal maternity leave in addition to safety of women in transportation to work and flexible work policies will go a long way in helping more women to join workforce.