Home >Politics >Policy >Govt doubles maternity leave for women workers in industries

New Delhi: The government has allowed women working in industries to take six months’ maternity leave, pre-empting parliamentary approval on the maternity benefit amendment bill that is pending in the Lok Sabha.

Through an executive order, the labour and employment ministry has doubled maternity leave to six months from three for industrial women workers. However, the benefit will be restricted to women who make a monthly contribution to the employees’ state insurance corpus from their salaries. This means about 2.9 million women working across various industries will get the benefit.

Under the Employees State Insurance Act, eligible employees contribute 1.75% of their salary (basic + allowances) and employers contribute 4.75% to the ESI corpus every month. There are at least 20 million insured persons under the ESI scheme, of which 2.9 million are women.

“In rule 56, in sub-rule (2),… for the words “twelve weeks of which not more than six weeks", the words “twenty-six weeks of which not more than eight weeks" shall be substituted", said the new rules, a copy of which has been reviewed by Mint.

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Besides, a woman will be allowed to take three months of maternity leave in case she is adopting a baby or taking possession of her baby from a surrogate mother.

All these provisions are part of the original Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which is awaiting approval in the lower House. The Rajya Sabha approved the bill in August 2016.

Once it becomes law, all the provisions will be applicable to all working women across India, and the present rules for industrial women employees will be subsumed in the bill.

An ESI Corporation spokesperson said the organization has asked all its regional offices to effect the change without any delay. Amarjeet Kaur, a board member of ESI Corp., said the labour ministry was initially hesitant as the amendment bill is pending in Lok Sabha, but finally agreed to extend the benefit.

“Political considerations aside, we feel women working in industries must enjoy a longer leave for child care," added Kaur, who is also secretary, All India Trade Union Congress.

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