The government of India is planning to pay back companies an amount equivalent to seven month’s salary of women employees from the labour fund to cover the costs of maternity leave, PTI has reported.
"We would be refunding the salary of seven weeks to the employer so women do not face problems upon returning to work," said Rakesh Srivastava, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The facility will be provided only to those who earn more than Rs 15,000 per month in both government and private sector. The move was taken after the government received complaints about the reluctance of companies to hire women.
The government had increased maternity leave for working women from 12 months to 26 months by introducing Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill in 2017 which was subsequently passed. Though laudable, the move had raised concerns that companies will avoid hiring women due to higher costs of maternity leave.
To address the issue, Maneka Gandhi, union minister for women and child development, approached the labour ministry. The decision was taken to use the underutilised Labour Cess Funds in order to reimburse partially the costs of maternity leaves to companies. Out of Rs 32,632 crore in the fund, only Rs 7,500 crore have been utilised till now as per existing data.
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