The Indian Parliament recently approved a bill that would double the paid maternity leave for all new mothers in the country. The amendment to India’s Maternity Benefit Bill was passed by Lok Sabha or India’s House of the People on Thursday. The said decision is expected to benefit as much as 1.8 million women.
Doubled maternity leave announced a day after International Women’s Day
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said better maternity leaves go a long way in taking care of women’s welfare. “I am very, very happy we have made history today. This will help thousands of women and produce much healthier children. We have been working on it for a long time,” Gandhi remarked.
Labor Minister Bandaru Dattatreya also welcomed the revised maternity bill. According to a report from Times of India, Dattatreya noted its passing after the celebration of International Women’s Day is timely.
According to the Indian government’s Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, a maternity leave will now be increased from 12 to 26 weeks for a woman’s first two children. On the other hand, a maternity leave beyond the first two children would still remain at 12 weeks. Similarly, women who are adopting a child below the age of three would get 12 weeks of maternity leave. The same benefit would also apply for “commissioning mothers” or surrogates.
Mothers will get more benefits in the workplace too
At the same time, the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has also put in place certain conditions to provide mothers better assistance in the workplace. For starters, an establishment with more than 50 employees is required to provide crèche facilities or daycare centers for working mothers. During the working hours, mothers would be allowed to make as much as four visits to these centers to be able to check on their child or children.
On the other hand, an employer may also choose to let a woman work remotely if possible. All establishments in India are expected to comply with conditions set forth in the revised maternity bill. This bill affects all companies who have 10 or more employees.
At the same time, the government warns that several female workers who work in so-called “unorganized” sectors may not be covered by the revised maternity bill. These include construction workers, domestic workers, agricultural laborers and seasonal workers. Aside from these, those who work for multiple employers may also not be eligible.
Nonetheless, India believes that extending the maternity leave for a significant part of the female workforce is also a critical step in ensuring that India’s children will be healthier in the future. This because the World Health Organization recommends that a child is exclusively breastfed by the mother for the first 24 weeks in order to improve survival rates. It also allows for a healthier development for both mother and child. With this improved maternity bill, Indian mothers can now concentrate on keeping their babies well-fed and cared for without having to worry about income stability.
India just put Ivanka Trump’s proposal to shame
Back in the U.S., first daughter Ivanka Trump has been busy putting together a childcare plan for her father’s administration. According to a report from CNN, the proposal includes six weeks of maternity leave plus a childcare tax credit.
Compared with India’s own revised bill, it seems the U.S. will be far behind even if it undertakes a childcare reform. Today, India ranks ahead of the likes of France, Japan, and Canada when it comes to paid maternity leaves. With Ivanka Trump’s proposal, the U.S. will be at the bottom along with Australia and Poland. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), both countries offer six weeks of paid maternity leave.