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Is it time to expand maternity leave for adoption of children across age groups?

Women are entitled to maternity leave for adoption, only if the child is below three months of age at that time. This has posed several challenges to women who chose to adopt.

January 30, 2021 / 09:32 AM IST

Natasha Sikdar*, an assistant professor at a Kolkata-based engineering college adopted a six-month-old girl child in 2020. She presumed that she would be entitled to maternity leave by her institute but was denied one citing the law.

"Since I had some reproductive issues and had reached the age of 36 years, I decided to go for adoption. The adoption process itself took more than a year and I really needed time off to spend with the baby. But my workplace refused leave since it is legally not mandatory," she added.

The Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act states that 26 weeks of paid maternity leave will be available to all working women for pregnancy and child-birth.

However, when it comes to adoption the law states provides only 12 weeks of maternity leave from the time the child is handed over to them. This too is applicable only if the child is below the age of three months. Women adopting children above three months are not legally entitled to any leave.