Govt to dou­ble pri­vate sec­tor ma­ter­nity leave to 26 weeks

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Moushumi Das Gupta let­ters@hin­dus­tan­ Saub­hadra Chat­terji saub­­terji@hin­dus­tan­

Women work­ing in the gov­ern­ment and pri­vate sec­tors can soon look for­ward to in­creased ma­ter­nity leave, help­ing them bal­ance pro­fes­sional com­mit­ments with per­sonal lives and po­ten­tially stem­ming the ex­o­dus of ex­pect­ing moth­ers from the work­place.

Af­ter year-long de­lib­er­a­tions, the Cen­tre has be­gun the process of fix­ing ma­ter­nity leave to 26 weeks — six-and-a-half months — across sec­tors.

This is more than dou­ble the leave moth­ers get in the pri­vate sec­tor: 12 weeks or three months. Ma­ter­nity leave for gov­ern­ment work­ers is six months.

A group of min­is­ters gave the green sig­nal to the labour min­istry’s pro­posal to in­crease ma­ter­nity leave for work­ing women on Wed­nes­day. “We will now move the cabi­net to get the pro­posal to amend the Ma­ter­nity Ben­e­fit Act, 1961 cleared,” said a se­nior labour min­istry of­fi­cial.

Women and child de­vel­op­ment min­is­ter Maneka Gandhi met labour min­is­ter Ban­daru Dat­ta­treya on Wed­nes­day and re­quested him to ex­pe­dite the process.

If the Union cabi­net clears the pro­posal, In­dia will be­come one of 40 coun­tries where ma­ter­nity leave ben­e­fits span more than 18 weeks.

The In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s (ILO) Ma­ter­nity Pro­tec­tion Con­ven­tion man­dates a min­i­mum 14 weeks of ma­ter­nity ben­e­fit to women but rec­om­mends that coun­tries should in­crease it to 18 weeks.

Ac­cord­ing to ILO’s Work­ing Con­di­tions Laws Re­port 2012, among coun­tries in Asia and the Pa­cific, 82% have leg­is­la­tion re­quir­ing from 12 to more than 18 weeks of ma­ter­nity leave.

Re­serve Bank of In­dia gov­er­nor Raghu­ram Ra­jan said on Thurs­day that three years is “too short a term” for the chief of the coun­try’s cen­tral bank, cit­ing longer tenures of his coun­ter­parts in other coun­tries.

He made the re­mark while brief­ing the par­lia­men­tary stand­ing com­mit­tee on fi­nance about the coun­try’s bank­ing sec­tor.

“Three years is too short a term. In the US, it is a min­i­mum of four years. There are many coun­tries where the cen­tral bank gov­er­nor gets a five-year ten­ure. But ul­ti­mately, it is for the gov­ern­ment to de­cide the length of the term of the RBI gov­er­nor,” he said.

An ap­pointee of the pre­vi­ous UPA gov­ern­ment, the 53-year-old Ra­jan has an­nounced he will not seek a sec­ond term when his ten­ure ends in Septem­ber but go back to academia.

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