On August 11, 2016, the Government of India (GoI) introduced the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (Bill) in the Parliament. The Bill was introduced to amend the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (Act) – the Act, as many may be aware, is the legislation to provide certain benefits to women in the context of pregnancy. The Act is applicable to factories, mines and plantations as well as to every ‘shop and establishment’ (a statutory term that would ordinarily cover various organizations in the private sector with an office/place of business in India) in which ten or more persons, are/ were, employed, on any day over the preceding twelve months.
On September 11, 2008, the GoI introduced the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission relating to enhancement of the amount of maternity leave and introduced child care leave in respect of central government employees. Effectively this resulted in increase in maternity leave and child care leave. Separately, several companies in the private sector introduced more beneficial provisions for female employees including better maternity leave than the Act provided. However, the Act did not introduce any changes in line with the changing needs of working women /mothers which the Bill intends to address.
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