The Ministry of Labour has agreed to increase maternity leave for employees of private firms to six-and-a-half months, from the earlier 12 weeks. Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi on Monday said her department had asked that the labour ministry take into account that women need to breastfeed for six months after childbirth, The Indian Express reported.
The WCD ministry might now push to extend this to eight months for women in both the private and public sectors. The labour ministry, which will need to amend to Maternity Benefits Act, 1961, to enforce the changes, had been hesitant, saying longer leave would affect women’s employability.
The International Labour Organisation recommends 14 weeks or more of maternity leave. Women working in the public sector in India get six months of leave, and can take childcare leave of up to two years at any point before their child is 18 years old.