To protect the rights of working women, the government has said that strict action be taken against those employers who do not follow the Maternity Benefit Act. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act had come into force from April 2017.
However there were complaints were flowing in about some employers not extending the benefits to the working women.
In a note, the government said that in the recent past there were several complaints and grievances from working women stating non-implementation of the provisions of the M.B. Act including alleged dismissal of few women by the employers in violation of section 12 of the said Act, non coverage of contractual employees, etc.
The National Commission for women has also taken serious view of such denial of rights of working women. This government has urged all states and UT Labour Commissioners effectively enforce the provisions of M.B. Act, and take strict punitive action against defaulting employers and ensure that the provisions of the statute are implemented in true spirit and letter to protect the rights of working women enshrined in the Act.
Increased Paid Maternity Leave: The MB Amendment Act has increased the duration of paid maternity leave available for women employees from the existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks. Under the MB Amendment Act, this benefit could be availed by women for a period extending up to 8 weeks before the expected delivery date and remaining 18 weeks can be availed post childbirth. For women who are expecting after having 2 children, the duration of paid maternity leave shall be 12 weeks (i.e., 6 weeks pre and 6 weeks post expected date of delivery).
Maternity leave for adoptive and commissioning mothers: The MB Amendment Act extends certain benefits to adoptive mothers as well and provides that every woman who adopts a child shall be entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave, from the date of adoption.
Work from Home option1: The MB Amendment Act has also introduced an enabling provision relating to "work from home" for women, which may be exercised after the expiry of the 26 weeks' leave period. Depending upon the nature of work, women employees may be able to avail this benefit on terms that are mutually agreed with the employer.
Creche facility: The MB Amendment Act makes crèche facility mandatory for every establishment employing 50 or more employees. Women employees would be permitted to visit the crèche 4 times during the day.
Employee awareness: The MB Amendment Act makes it mandatory for employers to educate women about the maternity benefits available to them at the time of their appointment.