Women in India will now be allowed maternity leave of 26 weeks, as per a new amendment to a legislation. The Maternity Benefit Amendment Bill, 2016, which was approved by the Lok Sabha on Thursday, extends the duration by more than twice the earlier figure of just 12 weeks.

It is a “historic day for women”, the Ministry of Women and Child Development said, adding that the Bill will “pave the way for a healthy and secure mother and a well-nourished child”. Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi called it a “momentous step” and thanked her colleagues for supporting the Bill.

According to the amendment, commissioning mothers, who have a child through surrogacy, and women who adopt a child below the age of three months will be allowed leave of 12 weeks. The period of maternity leave will be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the commissioning or adoptive mother.

The Bill also makes it mandatory for companies with more than 50 employees to provide a crèche facility within a prescribed distance. Mothers will be allowed four visits daily to the day care centre.