Topic– Social empowerment; Role of women and women’s organization
2) Maternity benefit Act has increased the entry barrier for women in Labour Force. Discuss. (250 words)
Why this question
This article highlights that one of the criticism of the maternity benefits act when it was introduced, was that it would increase entry barrier for females. The same has happened and we need to think of ways through which the act can be amended to ensure that it’s purposes are met.
Key demand of the question
The question expects us to first explain how amendments to maternity benefits act have increased entry barrier for women. Post that, we need to discuss changes through which the Act can be made more beneficial for women and discuss the way forward.
Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.
Structure of the answer
Introduction – Explain that there is a need to enhance female participation in LFPR, and for the same purpose India brought in well intentioned amendments to maternity benefits act.
- Explain the benefits accorded to women under the act and highlight how it has increased entry barriers for women under the Act. India offers one of the world’s most generous maternity leave policies. But India is also probably the only country where the entire financial burden of the maternity leave is supposed to be borne by the employer. In most countries, the cost of maternity leave is shared across the government, employer, insurance and other social security programmes (Singapore—eight weeks employer and eight weeks public funds; Australia and Canada—100% public funds; France—social insurance scheme; Brazil—mixed contribution from the employer, employee and government).
- Discuss the changes required in the act and the impact it would have. Cost sharing between employer and government by way of reimbursement once the employer furnishes the proof of payment of maternity leave wage, slab-based tax rebates offered by the government on actual maternity wages paid, setting up a government insurance scheme to pay for maternity wages, and leave sharing in the form of 13 months maternity and 13 months paternity to negate any possibility of gender bias.
Conclusion – Highlight that there is a need to enhance female participation in LFPR for which changes in the Act have to be brought in and discuss the way forward.