Govt to double private sector maternity leave to 26 weeks
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.