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Soon, 26-Week Maternity Leave For Women

The option of work from home may not be available for all working women, but an amendment in the Maternity Benefit Act will provide 26-week maternity leave to all mothers, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said.

"There are certain establishments where they can get (the permission to work from home). But in other establishments they get the facility of (26 weeks maternity leave) after amendment in the Act," Dattatreya told reporters here. The minister was replying to a query about the steps being taken by his ministry to promote the concept of work from home to increase women participation in the workforce.

He said that the new Maternity Benefit Bill, which seeks to enhance maternity leave to 26 weeks from existing 12 weeks, will be shortly taken up by the Cabinet for approval and the ministry will push it for passage in the Monsoon session of Parliament. Asked about the paternity leave and other benefits for fathers, the minister said, "the Bill is about mothers and children. It is not about the men (fathers)."

The minister also said that the model law that allows shops, malls and cinema halls, among other establishments, to run 24x7 throughout the year will increase women participation in the workforce as it allows them to work in night shits. "The is a pro-women law. Besides, it will help in employment generation. This will help increase women participation in workforce," the minister said.

The Model Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2016, was approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday. "The law also allows women to work in night (shifts).. There is provision for all facilities for women like drinking water, lavatory, creche, first aid and security," he said.

The Model law provides for creches if establishment has 30 women/50 workers. As per the proposal mooted by the Labour Ministry, the model law can be adopted by states with a provision of modifying it as per their requirements.

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