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Maternity leave: govt. for incentive scheme

Bid to reach out to private sector

In a bid to encourage employers, especially in the private sector, to implement the extended 26-week maternity leave law, the Labour Ministry plans to refund them for seven weeks’ worth of wages for women workers with a wage ceiling up to ₹ 15,000 per month. The Ministry is in the process of getting budgetary approvals for the ₹400 crore incentive scheme, according to an official statement.

Poor implementation

In March 2017, the Centre amended the Maternity Benefit Act to increase paid maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks for all women employees in establishments employing ten or more people. However, the Ministry statement noted that while implementation of the provision was good in the public sector, it was poor for those with private sector or 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,” said the statement, adding that the extended maternity leave has become a deterrent for female employees who are asked to quit or retrenched on flimsy grounds before they go on maternity leave.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment is therefore working on an incentive scheme whereby the government would bear the cost of maternity leave wages for seven weeks, subject to certain conditions. The financial implication to the Centre is estimated to be ₹ 400 crore, and the Ministry is in the process of obtaining budgetary approvals.

The scheme would “ensure the women equal access to employment and other approved benefits along with adequate safety and secure environment…,” said the statement.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 12:03:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/maternity-leave-govt-for-incentive-scheme/article25520440.ece

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