The government has proposed to reimburse 50% of salary for 14 weeks to women on maternity leave. The move comes in wake of reports indicating the decline in recruitment of women due to the increase in paid maternity leaves, especially in the private sector. The scheme applies to those earning aage of minimum Rs. 15,000.
Earlier, the government had in March 2017 amended the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
, increasing the paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for the women employees in corporations where 10 or more women are employed. “While the implementation of the provision is good in public sector, there are reports that it is not good in private sector and in contract jobs. There is also a wide perception that private entities are not encouraging women employees because if they are employed, they may have to provide maternity benefit to them, particularly 26 weeks of paid holiday,” the ministry of labour explains in its statement.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment is working on the scheme the cost of which would be borne by the government. The financial implication to implement the scheme is estimated to be ₹ 400 crores. Some budgetary approvals are yet to be obtained by the ministry. Falsifying the reports claiming that the said scheme will be funded by the cess collected by the government, an official said,
“that the Ministry of Labour and Employment is in the process of obtaining necessary budgetary grant and approvals of competent authorities. The reports that it will be funded from a labour welfare cess is also incorrect, as no such cess exists under this Ministry.”