Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act, 2017 enacted

The Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 has been amended to increase the duration of maternity leave entitlement from 12 to 26 weeks. However, the Act does not allow women with more than two children to avail of more than 12 weeks of maternity leave for subsequent pregnancies, thus furthering the two child norm of the government. Commissioning and adoptive mothers of children of less than three months are also entitled to maternity leave of 12 weeks. The Act requires every establishment with fifty or more employees to provide crèche facilities within a prescribed distance. It also makes provisions for ‘work from home’ projects. While these amendments are welcome, they leave out of their purview a majority of women who work in the unorganised sector, and are thus not covered by this Act.