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Q. Enhancement of paid maternity leave: Comment on the recent decision of enhancement of paid maternity leave in organised sector.
Mar 14, 2017 Related to : GS Paper-2

Ans :

Introduction-

Recently the government has enhanced the paid maternity leave for women working in the organised sector to 26 weeks from existing 12 weeks. It is a progressive step which will address the problems faced by women in the organised sector during their pregnancy days. 

Analysis-

  • Benefits of enhancing paid maternity leave is introduced by amending to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, which is in line with several expert recommendations including that of the World Health Organisation.
  • The WHO has recommended for exclusive breastfeeding of children for the first 24 weeks, which is most necessary for child. 
  • Similarly it will have benefits to adoptive mothers and women who get children using embryo transfers. It is one of the important steps towards social step. 
  • Providing benefits for women and children is a societal responsibility which can be funded in a large country through a combination of general taxation and contributory payments form firm where women works. 

Issues-

  • The recent enhancement is expected to cover only 1.8 million women who are working in organised sector, i.e it will leave many poor women working in unorganised sector.
  • The poor woman who mostly works in unorganised sector have only is a small conditional cash benefit of ₹6,000 during pregnancy and lactation offered under the Maternity Benefit Programme.  
  • Hence the benefits covered under recent amendment should not discriminatory towards unorganised sector and should include them with clear provisions. 

Conclusions-

Women in developing country like India should not suffer loss of income simply because they cannot remain in employment after childbirth.  Health care should be treated as a right and deliveries handled without cost to women, the income guarantees during the 26-week period can be ensured through a universal social insurance system to both organised and unorganised sector. In this background the recent amendment is great step towards social inclusion.


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