Impact of Revisions to Maternity Act
Government of India decided to revise the provisions of Maternity Benefits Act, 1961. The intent of the act is clearly aimed towards women empowerment and hence there is no debate on the sociological impact of the provision. What seems to be a benefit can easily become counterproductive for women as organizations in India may end up discriminating against hiring young women to avoid paying six months maternity benefits.
Instead of putting the burden of the benefits solely on Employers, the government should step in and take a portion of the cost or reimburse employers for the additional cost (similar to what is done under ESI scheme). Unless there is an incentive for businesses to offset the additional expense the new provision might lead to a drop in the employment opportunities for women.
In many countries the maternity costs are borne by the government as part of social security benefits, some even offers incentives/subsidy to the companies for hiring temporary replacement workers during the maternity leave.
It’s high time government evaluates and prepares for the fallout of such schemes before announcing and thrusting them down to the employers.
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