Restrict hiring of women employees in SME Sector: Maternity Amendment Bill

New Delhi [India], Aug 27 : According to Second Innings, a survey report by CII's Indian Women's Network (IWN), 37 percent of women opt out of their jobs mid career due to maternity or childcare issues.

The existing Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, entitles women to 12 weeks of maternity benefit and employers are liable to pay full wages for the period of leave.

However, the newly proposed Maternity Benefit Amendment Bill 2016 proposes to increase the leave from existing 12 week to 26 weeks and work from home option for women after expiry of maternity benefit period.

There is also a provision of establishment of creche in companies with more than 50 employees. The big question arises from the proposed amendment, would it be really in favor of female employees or it will restrict employers to hire married women? As per 2011 census, the unemployment rate for women in Urban Areas is 6.6 for women against 3.2 for men and in rural area the unemployment ratio of women is 2.9 against 2.1 for men.

Now the situation can be more gruesome as the small and medium sized organizations are disappointed with the proposals due to additional cost associated with the payment of enhanced benefits.

"We are providing best possible facilities to our female employees but establishment of creche, fully paid 26 weeks leave is really difficult to adhere for a small organization having very tight budget.

As the amendment would increase institutional cost and require engaging of substitute staff to ensure business continuity," said Director Anupam Sinks Pvt.

Ltd., Rajendra Garg. As per last census report 2011, the total workforce participation rate in India for females is 25.51 percent against 53.26 percent for males.

Whereas in urban area women participation rate is 14.7 percent as compared to 54.6 percent male workforce however in rural sector the female workforce participation rate is 24.8 against 54.3 men.

Women employment in organized sector is only 20.5 percent which is 18.1 percent in public sector and 24.3 percent in private sector.

These statistics are ample to present the picture of women employment in India. "Although we are in favor of hiring female employees but due to increase in expenses and practical difficulty in providing all facilities for small and medium size industry, the additional benefits may have an effect on the hiring of female married employees in micro, small, medium organization," said Director KNG Agro, Sidharth Goel.

Source: ANI