The Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act, 2017, increased the maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks
The government may remove the salary cap of Rs 15,000 on maternity leave and also reimburse companies for providing the cost of benefits to women employees for 14 weeks rather than seven weeks earlier, reports The Economic Times.
“Efforts are on to see how we can improve on the earlier provisions to make the amended Maternity Benefit Act benefit both employers and employees. We are looking at all options including placing some liability on the employers of the fathers," a senior government official told the paper
The Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act, 2017, increased the maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. However, employers started to differentiate against pregnant women. To tackle that, the government reimbursed the employer the cost of seven weeks out of the extended 14 weeks for women earning up to Rs 15,000.
"There is a need for further looking at the Maternity Benefit Act. The government must do away with the existing wage ceiling of Rs 15,000 to ensure that benefits reach everyone and the burden does not fall entirely on women employers,"the article qouted Rituparna Chakraborty, President of the Indian Staffing Federation, as saying.
Experts believe that benefits for women need to be raised to make sure that they are still within the workforce. Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.
At present, woman employees have to work in an establishment for at least 80 days in the last 12 months to be eligible for maternity benefits, which is paid based on the average daily wage for the period of actual absence. “We are considering if it makes sense to reduce this to half so that more and more women come into the fold,” the article quoted an official as saying.The government is currently using the corpus lying with the labour welfare cess fund to compensate employers for the seven weeks of maternity leave out of the extended 14 weeks. If the government takes upon itself to reimburse employers for the other seven weeks, then it will cost Rs 400 crore more.