The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 11, 2016 and has already been passed by the Rajya Sabha on 10 August. The Bill amends provisions related to the duration and applicability of maternity leave, and other facilities. Key highlights of the bill include:
- Duration of maternity leave: Women will be entitled to maternity benefit of 26 weeks from the earlier condition of 12 weeks; The maternity benefit should not be availed before eight weeks (earlier was 6 weeks) from the date of expected delivery. In case of a woman who has two or more children, the maternity benefit will continue to be 12 weeks, which cannot be availed before six weeks from the date of the expected delivery.
- Maternity leave for adoptive and commissioning mothers: The Bill introduces a provision to grant 12 weeks of maternity leave to a woman who legally adopts a child below three months of age and a commissioning mother (surrogacy). The 12-week period of maternity benefit will be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the adoptive or commissioning mother.
- Option to work from home: The employer may permit a woman to work from home. This would apply if the nature of work permits her to work from home and can be availed of, after the period of maternity leave, for a duration that is mutually decided by the employer and the woman.
- Crèche facilities: The Bill introduces a provision which requires every establishment with 50 or more employees to provide crèche facilities within a prescribed distance. The woman will be allowed four visits to the crèche in a day. This will include her interval for rest.
- Informing women employees of the right to maternity leave: Every establishment will need to intimate a woman at the time of her appointment of the maternity benefits available to her. Such communication must be in writing and electronically