Improved maternity benefits could prove counterproductive

Why in News?

A survey said that improved maternity benefits could be counterproductive to the cause of a diverse workplace in certain sectors unless other support measures are also undertaken.



Highlights Of the Survey

At least 26 per cent of the 350 startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that responded said they will prefer hiring a male candidate, given the cost of the six-month maternity leave benefit. About 40 per cent of respondents said they will hire women but will consider whether such a cost is worth the candidate.

39 per cent of organisations said the move will have a positive impact and will lead to a happier workforce but 35 per cent of the respondents said that the six-month maternity leave will impact both cost and profitability.

Maternity Benefits Act

(i)    Maternity leave available to the working women to be increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for the first two children.

(ii)    Maternity leave for children beyond the first two will continue to be 12 weeks.

(iii)    Maternity leave of 12 weeks to be available to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to the “commissioning mothers”. The commissioning mother has been defined as biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo planted in any other woman.

(iv)    Every establishment with more than 50 employees to provide for crèche facilities for working mothers and such mothers will be permitted to make four visits during working hours to look after and feed the child in the crèche.

(v)    The employer may permit a woman to work from home if it is possible to do so.

(vi)    Every establishment will be required to make these benefits available to the women from the time of her appointment.



i)The Act places the burden of providing paid maternity leave squarely on employers.  Given that the Bill increases maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, the increase in costs on the employer could be detrimental to women in the workforce.

ii) It covers approximately 1.8 million women workers, which implies that 90% of the women workforce who work in the unorganised sectors are not covered by the law.


NOTE4STUDENTS-The government has launched the Indira Gandhi MatritvaSahyog scheme to provide such women with a lump sum payment of Rs. 6,000. Unfortunately, this amount does not go a long way in covering loss of income.


Source-The Economic Times