The government will provide employers with the salaries for seven of the 26 weeks of maternity leave for women earning more than Rs 15,000 a month, the Women and Child Development ministry announced on Thursday.
The announcement, which includes the government as well as the private sector, comes in the wake of complaints that many companies were reluctant to hire pregnant women after maternity leave was extended from 12 to 26 weeks and some were even firing women employees.
WCD Secretary Rakesh Srivastava said it has been confirmed to utilize the funds lying in the labor welfare cess to pay the employers. “The utilization of the labor welfare cess lying with the state governments have been very less. After discussion with the Labour Ministry it has been decided that the seven of the 26 weeks of maternity leave for all women employees in the private and government sector getting more than Rs 15,000 a month would be paid from that fund,” Srivastava told reporters here.
The labor welfare cess has been given to state governments to safeguard the welfare of workers.
As per the Srivastava, there were complaints from women that they were getting fired from their jobs due to the increased duration of maternity leave. “The government has now confirmed that out of the 14 extra weeks, half of the amount of salary paid to the pregnant woman would be refunded to the employer from the funds of the labor welfare cess,” he said.
Till March 2017, there was Rs 32,632 crore in the fund. Of this, just Rs 7,500 crore has been used, he said.
“We would be refunding the salary of seven weeks to the employer so women do not face problems upon returning to work,” he said. “The labor minister has agreed to the proposal and we are now carrying it forward. There will soon be a notification from the Labour Ministry with further details,” he added.