The Maternity Benefits Act is yet to deliver the advantages of improving job opportunities for women, a study by human resource firm TeamLease Services showed. Women likely faced a net job opportunity loss between 0.91 million and 1.36 million over FY20 compared to 1.3 million to 1.8 million job loss in FY19, the study said.
The Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act 2017 increased the paid leave for maternity from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. It also called for creche facilities for the benefit of new mothers to be arranged by the workplace when they rejoin the organisation.
An earlier research conducted in 2018 by TeamLease showed that seven out of 10 sectors were expected to show a positive momentum in women workforce participation in the medium term (1-4 years) owing to the act. However, the new study said that the needle seems to have not moved much.
In fact, in the current edition of the study, 5 of the 10 sectors reviewed are lagging behind. These sectors like aviation and retail indicate a drop in the share of women in their workforce. The longer-than-expected gestation period of the Act in improving the ratio of women at work is attributed to a multitude of factors.
The study said that lack of awareness about the Act, increase in cost for retaining women and increased burden on fellow employees are some of the fall-outs employers are attributing to the Act. Time spent on domestic duties, social stigma against women in employment and regressive attitude of employers are some of the main reasons cited by women for choosing to stay away from work.
With respect to job opportunities, the study said sectors like BPO/ITes, BFSI, e-commerce and IT displayed moderate to significant job opportunity gains for women during FY20. BFSI continues to employ the highest proportion of women in the workforce, compared with other sectors.
However, aviation, retail, and tourism continued to cause net job opportunity loss for women during FY 2019-20, belying expectations of a net gain.
Overall, the study said, there is a 84-102 percent increase in the annual salary in case of white-collar employees, and up to 118 percent rise of annual salary in case of blue-collar employees.