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Maternity Bill passed in LS: 26 weeks paid leave, creche a must, and more

Right after the International Women's Day, the Parliament on Thursday passed a bill that will benefit about 1.8 million women in India. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed by the Lok Sabha, months after the Rajya Sabha approved the measure.

It is a “historic day for women”, the Ministry of Women and Child Development said, adding that the Bill will “pave the way for a healthy and secure mother and a well-nourished child”. Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi called it a “momentous step” and thanked her colleagues for supporting the Bill.

Here are the key highlights of The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016:

* The Bill aims to protect the employment of women during the time of pregnancy and entitles them to full paid absence from work to take care of their child

* Women working in the organised sector will now be entitled to paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, up from 12 weeks

* The maternity leave beyond the first two children will continue to be 12 weeks

* The new law will apply to all establishments employing 10 or more people and the entitlement will be for only up to first two children. For third child, the entitlement will be for only 12 weeks.

* The bill also makes it mandatory for employers in establishments with 30 women or 50 employees, whichever is less, to provide crèche facilities either in office or in any place within a 500-metre radius.

* The mother will be allowed four visits to the creche in a day. This will include her interval for rest.

* It also allows employers to permit woman to work from home if it is possible to do so

* Recognising that women who adopt or use a surrogate to bear a child also need time to bond with the child in the initial months, the bill also extends a 12-week maternity leave to adapting and commissioning mothers.

* The commissioning mother has been defined as “one whose egg is used to create an embryo planted in surrogate’s womb (in order words - a biological mother).” The period of maternity leave will be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the commissioning or adoptive mother.

The bill will now be sent to the President for his assent before it becomes an Act.