Maternity Act is yet to benefit women: Report
Staffing firm, TeamLease Services launched its latest report Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act 2017: Revisiting the impact, a detailed follow-up study on the impact of the Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act 2017. According to the report, the Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act 2017 is yet to have a positive impact on women labour force participation.
As per our earlier research conducted in 2018, 7 out of the 10 sectors reviewed were expected to show positive momentum in women workforce participation in the medium term (1-4 years) owing to the act, however, the needle seems to have not moved much. In fact, in the current edition, 5 of the 10 sectors reviewed are lagging behind. They are indicating a drop in the share of women in their workforce. The longer than the expected gestation period of the act in improving the ratio of women at work is attributed to a multitude of factors.
Lack of awareness about the act, increase in the cost and increased burden on fellow employees are some of the fallouts employers are attributing to the act. Time spent on domestic duties, social stigma against women in employment, and regressive attitude of employers are some of the main reasons cited by women for choosing to stay away from work.
Elaborating about the report, Rituparna Chakraborty, Executive Vice President, and Co-Founder, TeamLease Services, said, “The act was a very bold and progressive move towards encouraging female workforce participation. However, India is still among the bottom 10 countries in the world in terms of women’s workforce participation. Women’s LFPR for India stands at 20.52% in FY 2019-20 compared to 20.71% in FY 2018-19. In fact, the participation of women in urban areas wherein more than 55% are salaried is far poorer than rural women who are self-employed indicating the poor response to the act.”
“Weighing the burden of change on corporates alone will not be effective, it will require a comprehensive approach. The speedy passing of the proposed changes like the incentive scheme wherein 7 weeks wages would be reimbursed to employers who employ women workers with wage ceiling up to Rs. 15000/-and provide the maternity benefit of 26 weeks paid leave coupled with widespread campaigns to highlight certain deep-rooted societal challenges that women face will improve the efficacy of the act.” added Ms. Rituparna Chakraborty
A comprehensive analysis covering the views of all the stake holder including male employees, as per the study around 36% of the male respondents felt the act was one sided. They also were of the opinion (45% of the respondent) that both parents should get paid leave for childcare.
Apart from the impact of the act, the research also delves deep into the efficacy of the different retention initiatives undertaken by corporates to address the attrition owing to maternity. As per the analysis, there seems to be a dissonance between women’s expectations and retention measures by employers. For instance, lack of pay parity –the topmost concern for women does not seem to warrant the amount of employer attention that it deserves.
Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act 2017: Revisiting the impact is a follow-up report of The Impact of Maternity Benefits on Business and Employment – 2018. The current edition of the report covers the current opinion of corporates compared to the reaction when the act was amended in 2017, and steps taken by employers for implementing the provisions of the act. The analysis covers around 10 key sectors comprising aviation, BPO / ITes, Real-estate, e-commerce, education, BFSI, IT, Manufacturing, retail, and tourism.