Critically analyze the provisions of maternity benefit amendment act 2016. Do you think these provisions will help in bridging gender gap at the workplace?|

The Maternity benefit amendment act 2016 amend the 1961 Act to increase the maternity leave for working women from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children. However, there are certain issues with the amendment provisions.

  • The first issue is that this will be applicable only in case of formal sector and therefore excludes the large population which works in the informal sector.
  • Another issue is that the amendment provides for creche facility for entities have 50 or more workers. However, it is silent for the entities having less than 50 workers.
  • The provisions of maternity benefit will increase the cost of hiring a female, therefore it will reduce employers’ demand for female employees. This can have serious ramifications as the female labor force participation in India is already low. Also, private sector organizations may follow discriminatory hiring practices and in order to exclude women depending on their marital status and age.
  • The amendment doesn’t provide for paternity leave, therefore, it reinforces the stereotypes that childcare is the responsibility of women alone.
  • Also, the responsibility of these benefits lies on the employer. One solution can be following practices such as Singapore where government share the cost of paid maternity leave, this will reduce the burden on the employer, as well as it will act as an incentive to hire women.

The organizations should take steps for the reintegration of women returning to the workplace after their leave. This will help in reducing the gender gap. A nation can’t be economically strong without the integration of the half of the workforce. The benefits of gender parity are evident from IMF report, according to which gender parity in the workforce can boost India’s GDP by 27%.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Critically analyze the provisions of maternity benefit amendment act 2016. Do you think these provisions will help in bridging gender gap at the workplace? GKToday | Mint | Indian Express

Published: September 16, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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