New Delhi, November 15: In a bid to encourage the hiring of women and keeping them employed during their maternity period, the government on Thursday made it clear that it will bear the cost of 7 out of 26 weeks of the maternity leave. The Women and Child Development ministry on Thursday confirmed the government’s decision and it will give the employers the salaries for seven weeks of the 26 weeks of maternity leave for women earning more than Rs 15,000 a month. It covers the government as well as the private sector.
With the latest move, the government would refund the salary of seven weeks to the employer, so women do not face problems upon returning to work. The decision comes in the wake of complaints that many companies were reluctant to hire pregnant women after maternity leave was extended from 12 to 26 weeks and some were even firing women employees. Maternity Leave Law in India: Women Government Employees Having Child by Surrogacy to Get Leaves up to 26 Weeks.
WCD Secretary Rakesh Srivastava said it has been decided to utilise the funds lying in the labour welfare cess to pay the employers. According to a report by PTI, Srivastava told reporters that the utilisation of the labour welfare cess lying with the state governments has been very less.
He said after talks with the Labour Ministry it has been decided that the seven of the 26 weeks of maternity leave for all women employees in the private and government sector getting more than Rs 15,000 a month would be paid from that fund. "The government has now decided that out of the 14 extra weeks, half of the amount of salary paid to the pregnant woman would be refunded to the employer from the funds of the labour welfare cess," he said.
The labour welfare cess has been given to state governments to ensure the welfare of workers. Maternity leave was extended from 12 weeks to 26 weeks last year. According to Srivastava, there were complaints from women that they were getting fired from their jobs due to the increased duration of maternity leave.
Reports inform that till March 2017, there was Rs 32,632 crore in the fund. Of this, just Rs 7,500 crore has been utilised. The Minister informed that the labour minister has agreed to the proposal and we are now carrying it forward. There will soon be a notification from the Labour Ministry with further details.