Centre mulling maternity benefit in unorganised sector

SansadTV Bureau
Measuring Malnutrition Photo credit: DFID/CC BY 2.0

Photo credit: DFID/CC BY 2.0

The Central government is mulling over a contributory maternity benefit scheme for the unorganised sector employing around 10 crore women, after enhancing the paid maternity leave in all companies to six months.

The ministry has geared up to provide this sustenance to women in unorganised sector after Rajya Sabha passed the Maternity Benefit Bill 2016 unanimously to provide 26 weeks of leave to working mothers in the formal sector last week.

“We are planning a maternity benefit scheme on the lines of other contributory social security schemes run by retirement fund body EPFO and Employees State Insurance Corp,” Labour Secretary Shankar Aggarwal told the press on Monday.

“The scheme will be contributory where the subscribers as well as government will make equal contributions. The members would have option to contribute more than the minimum prescribed contribution so that they can save even more for those days,” he added.

The official also told that there will be a certain lock-in period so that the money is not diverted for any other purpose. The subscribers will also earn interest on accumulations, which will be credited into their accounts.

Aggarwal also talked about making a provision under the scheme that if a subscriber does not give birth to a child till the prescribed age then she would be allowed to withdraw the entire money.

The Union Labour Secretary was of the view that it is not feasible for the government to provide the benefit of paid maternity leave for six months to mothers in unorganised sector as it would require huge funding.

After the passage of Maternity Benefit Bill 2016 in Lok Sabha in forthcoming Winter session, as many as 1.8 million women will be benefited under the formal sector.

The Maternity Benefit Act covers all establishments employing 10 or more workers. But the new provision in the law would not provide any relief to over 10 crore women working in farms or as domestic help.