Why Maternity Leave Policy Is Bad For Indian Women

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New Delhi: If any of the job seekers have struggled to find a decent one online through job portals then they must be familiar with the following phrase that pops up on certain openings,

“Women willing to start or restart their career are encouraged to apply”. Or certain jobs are reserved for female candidates only to either balance the male to female ratio of the company or to encourage more women in work spaces.

However, a study by Team Lease has unveiled a bitter truth. Over 12 million women across all sectors might not even get jobs because of the new maternity leave policy. On March 09, 2017 the parliament approved a bill granting women working in the organised sector a paid maternity leave of 26 weeks as compared to a policy of 12 weeks earlier.

The entitlement was valid for the first two children. The policy which was expected to benefit around 1.8 million women will now cause disadvantage to around 12 million. Post the implementation of the act, the employment ratio of women plummeted 10%. The study had a sample size of 300 employees across key sectors like Information technology,manufacturing, retail, tourism and commerce.

Small Enterprises Have To Incur High Costs

Employers of small enterprises couldn’t afford the heavy expenditure that came along as a by-product of the policy. Not only the companies have to pay women employees for 26 weeks of no work but they also need to hire a temporary substitute for the maternity leave period.

Perhaps, the maternity leave policy is good only for employees of such organisations and not the recruiters. In addition to this, the uncertainty of the female employees returning to their jobs, since post pregnancy is a long process that requires nourishment to both the mother and baby, the candidates cannot be burdened with a lot of work once they
Large corporations can still balance their savings and struggle to implement it, jobs for women in small companies is going down drastically. Hiring male candidates becomes much easier for organisations.

According to TOI, an estimated net job loss of 11-18 lakh women for the fiscal year (FY) 2018-19 is predicted. If the government introduces a tax benefit or a monetary incentive for small enterprises then this policy can be executed in a feasible manner.

Not only are women finding it difficult to gather jobs in key sectors, but many of them who have been a part of the cut throat race have to make a restart once they return to their jobs after the maternity period. Women often lose promotions at leadership levels because they have family responsibilities to look after. Since many of them shall not be able to devote the same amount of time and energy, employers overlook their promotion to integral positions.

Gender discrimination prevails as well and extending the maternity leave period brings little respite to the female employees.

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