“It’s a great step towards women empowerment and an exceptional initiative to encourage working married couples to have ample time to stabilize their daily lives when they have a child. Kudos to the government for fast forwarding such initiatives,” said Shilpa Mahna Bhatnagar, CEO, Evoxyz Technologies after knowing that government has passed Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill.
Finally on Thursday, Rajya Sabha passed the much-awaited amendment to Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 which paved way for 26 weeks of maternity leave to working women besides providing for 12 weeks of maternity leave for commissioning mothers and introducing an enabling provision of "work from home" for nursing mothers.
Government’s this step has not only made married working women happy, but also given them a sense of trust towards them.
Union Cabinet which is chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its ex post facto approval to the bill on Wednesday. The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons. As per the Cabinet, the amendments will help approximately 1.8 million women workforce in organised sector.
On asking from the entrepreneurs about this government move and how it will affect business, Manoj Agarwal, Co-founder, Giftxoxo said, “The bill is definitely encouraging businesses and not discouraging them in any way. Business, owners do realize that the main intention of the bill is to increase and inspire women to join the workforce after having a child. It is also important to understand that most employees come from nuclear families and unlike old days they don’t have a fall back system.”
Some businesses have gone a step ahead and started initiatives such as crèches, child day-care units, nursing stations in offices, allowing mothers to work part-time and enhancing flexible hours for them to help new mothers and fathers ease their entry into parenthood.
"At PepsiCo, we treasure our diverse workforce and take pride in creating support systems that promotes a conducive workenvironment. As part of our commitment towards building a culture that offers our women employees opportunities to build their careers, we were among the first companies to extend maternity leave from 3 months to 6 months, starting last year. We recognized that the extended maternity leave and flexible work hours are important support factors during motherhood for women,” said PepsiCo’s spokesperson.
Passing of this bill will encourage bringing more women-centric policies at work, to ensure equal participation by both women and men. “This will encourage more women to pursue their long-term career goals without the fear of losing future opportunities. This will also fill the gender gap within the company and encourage women to devote more time for the growth of the child, without any professional pressure," said Ritu Singh, Co-Founder at CareOnGo.
When policies like these are applied, it empowers women in a big way. It encourages them to have ambitious full-blown careers. But on the other hand, we can’t forget that in business world changes always take place. I don’t how far this policy will benefit women employee and their companies, but what I can say with surety, is that it is going to bring big turmoil in the business world. It will change the way people used to work and apart from this, it will also raise expectation of the employees from the company and the government both.
“Generally women employees who are ambitious have a big fear that once they have a child their career will come to a standstill and it will be a difficult task to do justice with both the roles they have to play in their life. As a result, lot of women avoid extending their family when at a crucial stage of their career. These policies will encourage them to sustain a family and a great career in a big way and perform better at both the fronts,” said Bhatnagar.
But meanwhile, now this bill will go to Lok Sabha, where the government enjoys majority, and after its passage in the lower house, the changes will be notified by the labour ministry.