Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi on Thursday hailed the passage of Maternity Bill, which allows paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, in Parliament, calling it a "historic" decision.
The Lok Sabha passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 today. The Bill had already been passed by the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session. It entitles the women working in the organised sector to paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, up from 12 weeks.
"I am very, very happy that we have made history today.
This will help thousands of women and produce much healthier children. We have been working on it for a long time," said Maneka.
She also wrote a message on Change.org addressing the women who had petitioned her on the issue.
"This is a historic decision taken by our government. I had requested Honourable Minister for Labour to make these changes in relevant laws and I am grateful to him for taking up my request.
"While congratulating all working women who are planning to have a child, I assure you that we will continue to work for women in the country," the Minister said.
Maneka also acknowledged that ensuring organisations implement the Bill by providing mothers the mandatory 26 week leave and making provisions for a creche will be an uphill task.
The Minister refrained from commenting on the issue of paternity leave.
She had earlier courted controversy when she remarked that paternity leave will just be a holiday for men.
The Bill also provides for maternity leave of 12 weeks to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to commissioning mothers.
It also makes it mandatory for every establishment with more than 50 employees to provide creche facilities within a prescribed distance.