Dear Leader's,

Govt to increase maternity leave in private sector from 12 to 26 weeks

The union government is set to increase the maternity leave for women employed in private firms from the existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks.

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi Monday said the Ministry of Labour has agreed to increase maternity leave to six-and-a-half months. “We had written to the Labour Ministry asking that the maternity leave be extended taking into account the six months of breastfeeding that is required post childbirth. The Labour Ministry has agreed to increase it to six-and-a-half months,” said Maneka.

The Ministry of Labour is expected to amend the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, which presently entitles women to 12 weeks of maternity benefit whereby employers are liable to pay full wages for the period of leave.

Officials of the WCD Ministry said they will push for extending the leave to eight months, or 32 weeks, for women employed in both private and government sectors.

But WCD officials said the Labour Ministry has expressed reservations about increasing the maternity leave any further as they perceive that doing so will adversely affect the employability of women.

Government proposes increasing maternity leave to eight months

“The Labour Ministry has decided on six-and-a-half months following meetings with various stakeholders. We, however, feel that eight months of maternity leave — for women in government as well as private sectors — is required. We will move a note to the Cabinet Secretariat in this regard. Six months of exclusive breastfeeding is very important to combat malnutrition, diarrhoea and other diseases in infants and to lower infant mortality rate,” said a WCD official.

The International Labour Organisation recommends a minimum standard maternity leave of 14 weeks or more, though it encourages member states to increase it to at least 18 weeks. At 26 weeks, India is set to join the league of 42 countries where maternity leave exceeds 18 weeks. It, however, falls behind several East European, Central Asian and Scandinavian countries, which have the most generous national legislation for paid maternity leave.

Women employed in government jobs in India get a six-month maternity leave as per the Central Civil Service (Leave) Rules 1972. The last circular in this regard was issued in 2008, when it was increased from four-and-a-half months. If the WCD Ministry’s recommendations to the Cabinet Secretariat are accepted, the Department of Personal & Training will have to issue orders to enhance it to eight months.

Moreover, women government employees are allowed to take childcare leave of up to two years in phases at any point till their child turns 18 years old. The Seventh Pay Commission recently recommended that only the first 365 days of leave should be granted with full pay, while the remaining 365 can be availed at 80 per cent of the salary. But Maneka recently petitioned Finance Minister Arun Jaitley against the proposal, terming it a regressive step at a time when women are trying to become more economically independent.

“Women in India need longer maternity leave in absence of any support in parenting from men. It should not be seen as a deduction in labour hours but as a long-term investment from the future economic point of view. This is in addition to the fact that women need long maternity leave to recuperate and invest in child care,” said Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research.

She added that a recent analysis of the Maternity Benefit Act by CSR for the National Commission of Women showed that discrimination against pregnant women was widely prevalent in the corporate sector in the country.

- See more at: Govt to increase maternity leave in private sector from 12 to 26 weeks | The Indian Express

With Thanks and Best Regards,



“ Dream in my eyes, passion in my heart and drive in my soul, here I am an achiever ! "

From India, Bangalore

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It's a good move, but the benefit should be limited to two children only to curb increase in population. It's easy for me to state that as a retired person living abroad. I wonder what others in India think!!
From United Kingdom
The move is good and appreciable, but I am afraid if the companies stop recruiting women because when the maternity leave is 12 weeks, they used to take additional three months saying that there is no body to take care of baby and once rejoined, will again be unproductive for quite a long period. I am sure that women members will attack me with emotions and strong words, but I should say from my experience of over 25 years in HR that if this maternity leave is increased from 3 months to six months, they will not be available for at least 12 months at a stretch. The employment being in private sector, the employer may not be able to hire a candidate for the limited period of 6 or 12 months, though in Government employment, people are ready even if they are getting temporary employment for 30 days. That means the seat will be vacant and the others in the department will have to do extra work to compensate the loss caused due to the absence of the employee who is on maternity leave.

As recommended by the Pay Commission, if the concept of giving child care leave two years is also enforced in private sector companies, that will be taken in full stretch just on completion of first spell of maternity leave itself. Naturally, if the Payment of Gratuity Act is also amended and the minimum qualifying service is made 3 years, they can easily resign and collect gratuity from the company and quit. Again I repeat, these happen in India only because we know how to make use of laws and we know what our rights are. If possible, we can make use of our own company's Policy Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace, keeping aside that men and women have equal rights.

I donot find any merit in Ms Ranjana Kumari's statement that women in India need longer maternity leave because parental support is not available from men. It may be true in some villages and employments which are not organised but there exists a very clear understanding among the couples who are educated and employed.

It is good that the Commission has ultimately found that there exists discrimination against pregnant women. But the remedy is to enforce the existing laws and not to make at par with government departments where you will get replacement from the Employment Exchanges very easily and if you do not get any replacement, it will be the public who will bear the loss.

I am very sorry to say that amendments can be made to any labour law and that will bring more votes to the political party who brought them but it should be practical and should not be at a huge cost to employers.


From India, Kannur
Sir(s), to provide maternity benefit to its working mothers in private sector is a policy matter and I think, Govt. is right in enhancing the period of entitlement of such maternity benefit. Some big companies in the private sector also appears to also ready in this regard. I am indicating below online link of an article appeared in Economic Times on 01/01/2016 as follows:
India Inc eager to go extra mile as government readies to extend maternity benefits in private sector - The Economic Times
In the article, it is mentioned that some companies in private sector are already providing such enhanced maternity leaves to their woman employees.

From India, Noida
Sir , Pls let us know when it will be implemented Regards Neha
From India, Bengaluru

This is an excellent gesture , women working in private are no different than working in government ....this is justice...When will the bill be passed and from when will it be applicable? Will it apply to women who are already on maternity leave?

This is actually a wonderful measure but on the other hand I would like to drag attention towards those numerous private organizations where all these benefits are only on paper. Female employees can't avail these facilities in practicality, neither 12 weeks nor the upgraded one. Being a female, I really wonder if this situation could be taken care of....
From India, Chennai
You should be more worried now, because your employability itself is in challenge Madhu.T.K
From India, Kannur
Dear All, It’s only recommendations but still its not approved from Cabinet..Hopefully this session may get approval. Hope for the best. With regards, Nanjegowda
From India, Bangalore
Sir, online link of the proposals in the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 as published in the Economic Times is mentioned as follows for kind information of members of this forum: -
Women may get maternity leave for 26 weeks; Bandaru Dattatreya may table bill today - The Economic Times

From India, Noida

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