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Maneka Gandhi’s ‘hard work’ pays off, RS passes bill raising maternity leave to 26 weeks

India TV Politics Desk New Delhi 11 Aug 2016, 16:47:41 PM IST
India TV Politics Desk

The Rajya Sabha today passed a new bill providing 26 weeks’ maternity leave for all working women, a day before the Monsoon session of the Parliament is to end. 

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, who says that the bill is a hard work of two years, was closely monitoring the development throughout the day.  

Although the bill was introduced by Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya in the Upper House, Maneka’s ministry has been its chief architect. 

"All through the two years while we've been pushing for this, pregnant women have mailed me asking, `Is it through yet?" the minister said. 

Maneka was holding her breath as she knew that she would have to wait for another session if the bill got stuck in the Upper House, where the NDA is in minority.

“Finally, it is coming to parliament today, I hope it is passed,” she said, earlier today. 

“This is an important bill as it will improve the health of babies,” she said. 

The bill, which amends the existing act of Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 and was introduced as Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 raises maternity leave for women from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. 

Cabinet gave ex-post facto approval to the bill yesterday. 

"The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval for amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 by introducing the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Parliament," an official statement said yesterday. 

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a full paid absence from work - to take care for her child. 

It is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons and the amendments will help around 1.8 million women workforce in the organised sector. 

These amendments include increasing maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two children, 12 weeks maternity leave to a Commissioning mother and Adopting mother and mandatory provision of creche in respect of establishment having 50 or more employees.