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Need For Paid Maternity Leave & Online Wages For Construction Workers

The Indian government has announced the extension of maternity benefits to women in the construction sector, an often overlooked segment of the unorganized workforce.

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Oshi Saxena
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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Indian government is all set to extend maternity benefits to women in the construction sector, marking a significant stride towards inclusivity in an otherwise unorganized workforce. Union Minister of Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani, announced that the Ministry of Labour has issued a directive urging employers to ensure that female workers receive the full spectrum of maternity leave entitlements, including emoluments, under the PM  Matru Vandana Yojana.

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This transformative initiative is not confined to rhetoric but is enshrined in a recent advisory sent by the labour ministry to all companies operating in the infrastructure sector.

Advisory Echoes Through Infrastructure Sector

Acknowledging the arduous nature of construction work and the specific needs of female workers within this domain, the Ministry of Labour, in conjunction with the Ministry of Highways and Road Transport, has issued a directive mandating 26 weeks of maternity leave for registered construction workers

“The advisory that I hold in my hands for female construction workers across the country mandates them to be given 26 weeks of maternity leave by their employers. Now, this is nothing less than revolutionary. Not just putting ink to paper, but ensuring officers actively consider the availability of such facilities to women."

Irani highlighted a crucial aspect of the advisory, emphasizing that even in the unfortunate event of a miscarriage, affected women are entitled to six weeks of leave with wages at the rate of maternity benefits

Empowering Women Through Digitization

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A paradigm shift towards digital empowerment accompanies this progressive move. Irani revealed that every female employee in the construction sector will now have their wages seamlessly deposited directly into their bank accounts by the employer. This not only eliminates the cumbersome process of manual wage distribution but also serves as a bulwark against potential exploitation, particularly for migrant women workers.

Irani emphasized the significance of digital democracy under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, citing the remarkable fact that 24 crore women in the country now possess bank accounts. The digitization of anganwadis, numbering 14 lakhs across the nation, ensures that even migrant workers can avail themselves of various benefits. Over 10 crore beneficiaries, including more than 1,10,000 migrant women workers, are currently reaping the advantages of this digital transformation.

Fostering Gender-Neutral Workplaces

Beyond maternity benefits, the advisory issued by the Labour Ministry emphasizes the importance of gender-neutral policies and facilities within construction companies. From ensuring safe sanitation facilities to promoting gender-neutral job advertisements and facilitating equal opportunities for leadership roles, these directives are instrumental in dismantling systemic barriers and fostering a culture of inclusivity and diversity within the construction sector.

The directive highlights fostering an environment where both men and women have equal opportunities to care for their children or dependents without facing discrimination or bias based on gender roles, and that is conducive to the holistic development of all workers, irrespective of gender or profession.

construction workers in India paid maternity leave Indian government
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