The Centre’s proposal to extend maternity leave across sectors to 26 weeks may soon be introduced. This comes after Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi’s meeting with Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya on Wednesday, during which she pushed for the process to be sped up, Hindustan Times reported.

The Labour Ministry’s proposal got the go ahead from a group of ministers, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, on Wednesday. A senior official of the Labour Ministry said they will now approach the Cabinet to clear the amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. If the proposal gets the Cabinet’s approval, it will make India one of 40 countries where women are allowed maternity leave of more than 18 weeks.

With this move, the Centre hopes to prevent expecting mothers from leaving their jobs. Currently, women in the private sector get merely 12 weeks of maternity leave, while government employees get 24 weeks. A minimum of 14 weeks is mandated by the International Labour Organisation’s Maternity Protection Convention.