The government will now refund employers the salaries for seven weeks out of the 26 weeks of maternity leave, the Women and Child Development ministry announced on Thursday. This will be applicable to cases where the woman employee is earning more than Rs 15,000 a month, as per reports

The order covers both – the government and the private sector

The WCD ministry’s order covers the government and the private sector as well. This decision comes after several complaints voicing that many companies were reluctant to hire pregnant women after maternity leave was extended from 12 to 26 weeks. The maternity leave extension also led to several employers firing female employees.

Adding to the information, WCD Secretary Rakesh Srivastava said this decision has been taken keeping in mind the need to utilise funds lying in the labour welfare cess to pay the employers. “The utilisation of the labour welfare cess lying with the state governments has been very less. After talks 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 said.

Labour welfare cess has been given to state governments to ensure welfare of workers.

According to Srivastava, several women were raising concerns over the fact that they were getting fired from their jobs due to the extended maternity leave duration. “The government has now decided 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 labour welfare cess,” he said.

Until March 2017, Rs 32,632 crore amount was accumulated in the labour welfare fund. Of this, only Rs 7,500 crore has been utilised until now, he added.

The centre will be reimbursing the salary of seven weeks to the firms so that women do not face problems upon returning to work. Reportedly, the labour minister has agreed to the proposal and this decision is now being carried forward. The concerned ministry will soon be sending out a notification with further information on the same.

With this move, the government is surely looking at ways to encourage the hiring of women and dismantle the roadblock surrounding maternity leaves.

Also Read: How Maternity Leave Affects Women’s Careers: Report

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