Indira Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, when asked if there is anything she regrets, answered that certainly it was the considerable small amount of time spent with her daughters. She told that she had gone through a lot of heartaches leaving her daughters back at home while they were growing up.
Working women, from chief executive officers to the receptionists, have all struggled in balancing their professional lives with the personal ones, especially when taking care of newborn babies and toddlers. And the recent amendments made by the Labour Ministry in the Maternity Benefits Act of 1961 provide a refreshing shower of hope and relief for working moms.
The ministry has been receiving accolades from all women employed in various sectors across the country. The major highlight of the amendment is increasing the existing 12 weeks maternity paid leave to 26 weeks. Special mention goes to Women and Child Development Minister, Maneka Gandhi for proposing and speeding up the process of implementation. This was done after doing lots of analysis and studies revolving around working women in both organized and unorganized business sectors. First reason was the clear discrimination existing towards pregnant women. Second was the delay in marriage and child birth because of the stingy maternity leave. Moreover, studies showed that extended maternity leave would definitely result in lower infant mortality rates.
To get the benefit of maternity leave, she should be a permanent employee of the company and should have atleast worked 80days in a year She can also apply for additional unpaid maternity leave if required. Altogether, it should stay within 26 weeks. The women employee should give atleast four weeks’ prior notice to the employer with all the documents for proof like medical certificates and reports confirming her pregnancy. If the pregnancy results in still-birth or miscarriage any time after 24th week of gestation, the employee is entitled to full maternity leave. It should be supported by all the relevant documents from the gynecologist. Further, if the mother is breast feeding her child, she can still get a few more days off or reduction in her office timing without loss of pay upto a few weeks after giving birth.
By providing 26 weeks of maternity leave to working women in country, India will soon join the league of nations that exceeds 18 weeks, but she will be behind the developed economies like European and East Asian countries.
In addition to the maternity leave, Labour minister, Bandara Dattatraya has also asked the private sectors to provide additional facilities to the working parents like crèche, laundry, first aid service, security, etc. so that they can soon rejoin back and start focusing on their career once again.