In a welcome move, the Centre has announced that maternity leave in private sectors will be increased to 26 weeks from the stipulated 12 weeks. According to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 female workers are entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks (84 days) of maternity leave, with not more than 6 weeks before the date of delivery (Indian Express).
Year 2015 will be the bench mark year as far as maternity leaves are concerned. Merissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo was making news across the world as she planned to take only two weeks maternity leave to deliver twins in December. On the other hand scene in India is looking brighter.
This year companies are seems to be becoming more diversity conscious and making inclusive policies for women employees. Maternity benefit is one of the most important benefits always been talked about. Newest organizations are going extra miles for women and setting high benchmarks in the industry.
- Citi India is offering leaves of 180 days as per the convenience of mother.
- Citi Bank offers child care allowance of Rs. 1.32 lakhs annually for up to 4 children.
- Filpkart has recently announced 6 months paid leave and 4 months of flexible working hours with full pay.
- Google offers 5 months paid leave including salary, bonus and stock.
Does that mean that India has one of the best maternity benefits across the world? As per NDTV news data we get to see the global view on maternity leaves:
|Canada||50 weeks with 85% pay
|Sweden||56 weeks with 80% pay
|Australia||No maternity leave only parental leave of 18 weeks which can be divided amongst parents
|Finland||Paid leave of 50 days before delivery and 4 months after delivery
|France||16 weeks leave for single birth and up to 34 weeks for multiple births
|Germany||14 weeks leave with full pay|
|Japan||14 weeks leave with 67% salary|
|USA||12 Weeks unpaid leave but given benefits from state|
|South Africa||16 weeks leave
So Indians have reason to smile. Experts mentioned extending maternity leave will also promote more women to return to work and close the gender gap in the labour market. Many women reluctantly drop out of work because they need more time for their newborns.
The news went viral of social networking sites and got to see lot of reactions from women and men as well. Though the news is positive, women have expressed their concerns about job security once they come back.
One of the ladies working an advertising company said, “Mixed emotions right now since it might even give room to decelerate the lady’s career growth considering 26 weeks is 6.5 months!!! I would be all for it if they make that optional rather than mandating it!”
At the same time one young girl doubted about promotions and appraisals. Men also expressed hopes on the alteration in paternity leave.
The surprising comment was, “I really will think twice before taking such a long leave. It will impact my career.”
At the same time there are many working women who are not aware about the policies. The picture seems to be good in MNCs and in unorganized sectors women are not able to avail even existing policy. The uniformity in execution of maternity leave policy seems to be missing. To ensure the implementation of the policy government need to develop mechanism. The small scale companies where there is less than 20 workers face major challenge to implement this policy. Industry is moving forward contractual employment; women working on contract basis may not be able to avail this facility. The biggest question remain unanswered for working women face is do firm assure that their career path will not be affected if female employees choose to take career break?