A Bill to increase the maternity leave of women from the present 12 weeks to 26 weeks was passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha in August last year, is expected to benefit an estimated 1.8 million women in the organised sector.
As per the Bill's provisions, maternity leave for working women will be increased to 26 weeks for the first two children. Maternity leave for children beyond the first two will continue to be 12 weeks.
Maternity leave of 12 weeks will be available for mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to the "commissioning mothers". A commissioning mother has been defined as a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo planted in any other woman, a government release said.
The period of maternity leave will be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the adoptive or commissioning mother.
Every establishment with 50 or more employees will need to provide crèche facility to its employees and women will be allowed four visits to the creche daily.
The provision also states that the employers may permit nursing mothers to work from home if possible.