Maternity Benefit Bill will improve health of babies: Maneka Gandhi

| Updated: Aug 11, 2016 16:37 IST

New Delhi, Aug. 11 (ANI): Congratulating Parliament and the Centre for taking up the Maternity Benefit Bill in the Rajya Sabha today, Women and Child Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi said the passage of the important bill would improve the health of babies. "I am really happy that the Maternity Benefit Bill is going through Rajya Sabha today and I would like to congratulate all of Parliament and our government especially for having changed the lives of mothers and children. This is an important Bill because it will really improve the health of babies," Gandhi told media here. Gandhi said one of the reasons why the ministry insisted on it was because the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) had made a parameter that if women breast feeds minimum of seven months then the child will suffer from far less allergies and illnesses. "So, we have now made it six and a half months and for the first time in India this is a chance to women to breast feed their babies, look after them, heal their bodies and then come back to work," she added. Following the Cabinet approving the amendment made to the Maternity Benefit Act, which aims to raise maternity leave for women from 12 to 26 weeks, will be introduced in the Rajya Sabha today for consideration and passing. The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, yesterday gave its ex-post facto approval for amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 by introducing the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2016. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, protects the employment of women during the time of maternity and entitles them of a full paid absence from work to take care for the child. The amendment bill seeks to increase maternity leave to 26 weeks in all establishments, including private sector. The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons. The bill also provides 12 weeks leave for commissioning and adopting mothers and makes it mandatory to provide creche facility for establishment where the number of workers is 50 and above. At present, the Maternity Benefit Act does not provide any maternity leave for commissioning or adopting mothers. Maternal care to the Child during early childhood is crucial for growth and development of the child. The amendments will help 18 lakh women workforce in organised sector. (ANI)