For Women In Corporate Firms In India, Return Is Tough After Long Maternity Break

By Sunny Sen and Suchetana Ray Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This article takes a look at “The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act” which was recently passed in India. The legislation has been hailed for making it easier for women to continue with their jobs after becoming a mother.

Hindustan Times, New Delhi

It took Upasana Taku three-and-a-half months to get back to work after giving birth to her first child, but the co-founder of India’s second-largest mobile wallet firm, MobiKwik, said that her situation was different.

“I wanted to come back within three months, but couldn’t, because my son fell sick and was in the intensive care unit,” Taku said.

She believes all new mothers do not need six months of break, mandated recently by amendments to the law on maternity benefits.

“All these laws are made on averages… to make lives easy. But, to make a law that allows six months paid leave will make it difficult for women to come back to a corporate life,” Taku said.

Why aren’t new mothers taking their maternity leaves?

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, notified by the President’s consent last month, has been hailed for making it easier for women to continue with their jobs after becoming a mother. But entrepreneurs such as Taku differ. She said studies suggest that a maternity break puts a woman’s career back by a year.

In addition to the 6 months’ leave, women can take two more months off at half-pay should they need it, the new law mandates.

Corporate leaders and economists fear the new law will make matters worse for working women as companies could shy away from recruiting female employees.

In India, women’s participation in the workforce is far from ideal. A 2016 World Bank showed India’s gender gap in workforce at 53 percentage points, higher than its neighbour Nepal (at seven percentage points).

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