The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2017 was passed by Parliament last year. It was considered as a landmark as it made 26 weeks of paid maternity leave mandatory for all women employed in the organised sector. It was believed that the bill would reform and help India progress. The Bill would allow women to stay in the workforce even after childbirth. However, cost implications have turned out to be a big factor. However, a study by TeamLease reveals statistics that provide an ugly view of women’s hiring in the short term after the Act.
India’s women workforce participation rate has declined from about 37% in 2005 to 27% in 2013. Keeping the decline in mind, the Maternity Benefit Act aimed at bringing women back into employment. The Act intended to ensure women’s workforce security after childhood to boost the country’s income
However, a lot of companies claimed that cost implications are turning out to be large.
The TeamLease report has estimated a net job loss of 11-18 lakh women for the fiscal year (FY) 2018-19 because of the Maternity Benefit Act. These numbers are higher than the average annual attrition rate of women employees in the workforce.
The study was directed among 300 employers. It covered about 10 key sectors — aviation, BPO/ITeS, real estate, education, e-commerce, BFSI, IT, manufacturing, retail, and tourism.
Declining women workers
TeamLease Services co-founder and executive VP Rituparna Chakraborty discussed the declining rate of women workers in the Indian workforce. Chakraborty said, “Historical data shows that the Indian workforce has been losing women workers at the rate of 28 lakh per year for seven years from 2004-05 to 2011-12. The net job loss (11-18 lakh for 10 sectors for FY19) over and above this number is attributable solely to the Amended Maternity Act.”
Chakraborty stated that these numbers might rise and would go up substantially to an estimate of 1-1.2 crore.
In FY 18, there was a net job loss of 50 lakh women.
While some employees consider the post-maternity retention cost as sensible and judicious, many see it as a prohibitively expensive proposition
The 100% employer-funded model of the Act is comprehended as unrealistic and impracticable by some sections of industry.
Giving solutions, Chakraborty said, “The government could come up with an amnesty scheme or additional benefits to encourage employers to hire more women.”
We talked to a few people to know about their views that how they feel about Maternity leaves and such laws.
Archana Dhankar, Entrepreneur and Founder of AllThatClicks said, “When laws on maternity leave were implemented, most of the married woman were at profit. Already women suffer a lot because of biases in the work fields or gender inequality. This concept provides a place for women to make their own identity. I know that companies would have to pay for these leaves but I don’t think this should be taken as negative. Because if a lady or woman is skillful and talented, then it can all be repaid when the woman is in good health after such leaves.”
Priya Kapoor, who is an HR professional in a PR firm, shared her views with us. She said, “I don’t know about other companies but in the sector where I am working recently, I have seen women are generally provided with such leaves. There might be some small-scale industries or companies which don’t feel the need for this. It should be noted that if gents and women are provided with equal opportunities to showcase themselves in a company then such things should also be implemented. This is the genuine situation where women actually cannot do anything except listening to others.”
Deepali Is An Intern With SheThePeople.TV