BOON OR BANE?

Savvy - - Savvy Womaniya -

As many as 12 mil­lion In­dian women could lose their jobs next year due to a new law which makes it manda­tory for em­ploy­ers to al­low 26 weeks paid ma­ter­nity leave. The Ma­ter­nity Ben­e­fit (Amend­ment) Act had been passed in March 2017, which had in­creased paid leave for em­ploy­ees af­ter giv­ing birth from the pre­vi­ous 12 weeks. It also made day care cen­tres manda­tory for com­pa­nies with more than 50 em­ploy­ees.

While this was seen as a boost for women’s rights, the down­side is that em­ploy­ers, es­pe­cially of smaller com­pa­nies, could be less likely to hire women due to the de­mands of the Act. This is not good news for a coun­try where nearly 20 mil­lion women had left the work­place be­tween 2004 and 2012. The fe­male labour force is just 24%, the worst in South East Asia and among the G-20 na­tions, only out­do­ing Saudi Ara­bia.

In 2017, a World Bank pol­icy pa­per found that hav­ing a young child in the home de­presses moth­ers’ em­ploy­ment. The ‘moth­er­hood penalty’ sees In­dia’s most ed­u­cated women quit­ting their jobs mid­way through their ca­reers.

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