The Maternity Leave Policy

Leave makes up the core of maternity protection, not just for the mother but also for the child. Lately, fathers are encouraged to take paternity leaves (shorter periods after childbirth) and provide extended parental leaves. 

Rationale Of Maternity Leave

Maternity leave intends to help women deal with the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Parental leave is to facilitate the nurturing of children after birth and provide support to mothers, and both fathers and mothers should share this responsibility. Maternity leaves can be paid and unpaid, but to a large extent, maternity leaves are backed by financial support. 

Importance Of Maternity Leave

Maternity covers periods both before and after childbirth. As stated earlier, the purpose of maternity leave is to support the mother in dealing with the pregnancy’s psychological and physiological demands. This role is universally accepted, and many countries have adopted legal provisions for maternity leave. However, it is essential to note that maternity leave is not sick leave, and granting maternity leave should not amount to a reduction in the number of sick leaves before or after childbirth. 

Implications Of Maternity Leave

Although pregnancy cannot be seen as an illness, only a few aspects might affect women at work; there is a particular period during pregnancy and postpartum that a woman is advised not to work. The working conditions also play a role in this. If the working conditions are such that an expecting woman is not recommended to be at (for example, chemical factories), the firm may transfer them to another post or location initially and grant maternity leaves during the stipulated period. Postpartum is as important as the pregnancy period. It is crucial for the child and the mother. The first few weeks pose a substantial risk to the health of the mother and the child. 

Maternity Leave Policy In India

Indian economy is seeing a rise in the number of women working. Of course, maternity benefits have always been a part of company policies. Still, recently it has gained a lot of attention, with the emphasis being given not just to the physical changes a mother goes through but also to the emotional changes. Becoming a mother is an overwhelming experience, and women might need time to prepare to return to work and focus on their careers. The Maternity Benefits Act of India was amended in the year 2017. 

Amendments to the Act

As per the new law, 

  • Maternity leave has been raised from 12 weeks to 26 weeks
  • Parental leave has increased from 6 to 8 weeks
  • Women with more than two children are allowed maternity leave of 12 weeks 
  • Women adopting a child under the age of three are entitled to adoption leave of 12 weeks

Work from home is also allowed for women before they resume work with full force. In addition, female employees may extend their maternity leave with the option of working from home for another six months. 

Employees are the greatest asset of an organization. Returning to work after maternity leave is a crucial point in women’s careers. While becoming a mother meant a full stop to a women’s employment, today, they have an opportunity to balance both. Even then, organizational support plays a significant role in the effective return of women to their job. As a result, mothers can enjoy motherhood without concerns and easily return to their careers.

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