- Women related issues.
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Guidelines for crèches at workplaces
What to study?
- Static Part: Maternity Benefit Act- key features, Guidelines on crèches at workplaces.
- Dynamic and Current: Significance of the act and challenges in its implementation, what needs to be done?
Context: The Centre has prepared guidelines for setting up of crèches at workplaces. The guidelines prescribe trained personnel to man the facility as well as infrastructure requirements and safety norms.
- The guidelines are not mandatory but are a yardstick for NGOs and organisations for setting up of creches.
In March this year, Parliament passed the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, 2017, enhancing paid maternity leave from a period of 12 weeks to 26 weeks. The law is applicable to all institutions with 10 or more employees. It also makes it mandatory for every organisation with 50 or more employees to have a crèche.
The new guidelines include:
- A crèche be either at the workplace or within 500 metres of it. Alternatively, it could also be in the beneficiaries’ neighbourhood.
- The facility should be open for eight to 10 hours and if the employees have a shift system, then the crèche should also be run accordingly.
- A crèche must have a minimum space of 10 to 12 square feet per child to ensure that she or he can play, rest and learn. There should be no unsafe places such as open drains, pits, garbage bins near the centre.
- The crèches should have at least one guard, who should have undergone police verification. There should also be at least one supervisor per crèche and a trained worker for every 10 children under three years of age or for every 20 children above the age of three, along with a helper.
- No outsiders such as plumbers, drivers, electricians be allowed inside the crèche when children are present.
- A crèche monitoring committee with representations from among crèche workers, parents and administration should be formed.
- There should also be a grievance redressal committee for inquiring into instances of sexual abuse.
The Maternity Benefit Act:
- The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, applies to establishments employing 10 or more than 10 persons in factories, mines, plantation, shops & establishments and other entities.
- The main purpose of this Act is to regulate the employment of women in certain establishments for certain period before and after child birth and to provide maternity benefit and certain other benefits. The Act was amended through the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017.
The amendment has brought in major changes to the law relating to maternity benefits. These are:
- It extends the period of maternity benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks of which not more than eight weeks can precede the date of the expected delivery. This exceeds the International Labour Organisation’s minimum standard of 14 weeks and is a positive development. However, a woman who has two or more surviving children will be entitled to 12 weeks of which not more than six weeks can precede the date of the expected delivery.
- Women who legally adopt a child below the age of three months or a “commissioning mother” will be entitled to maternity benefit for 12 weeks from the date on which the child is handed over to her. A commissioning mother is defined as a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in another woman.
- It gives discretion to employers to allow women to work from home after the period of maternity benefit on mutually agreeable conditions.
- It introduces a provision which requires every establishment to intimate a woman at the time of her appointment of the maternity benefits available to her.
Sources: the hindu.
Mains Question: Examine how far Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 has succeeded in empowering women at workplaces?