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Three years past, Maternity Benefit Act yet to increase job opportunities for women: Report

The Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act 2017 is yet to deliver a positive impact on job opportunities for women. In a contrast, women’s participation has dropped in more than five out of 10 sectors since the implementation of the act, reveals the latest report by TeamLease – a human resource company.

The report suggests that seven 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, 5 of the 10 sectors are lagging behind and instead of indicating a drop in the share of women in their workforce, as per the report.

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After maternity, women face several challenges. Most of the women (30 per cent) cited wage cuts followed by resistance or lack of support from family (25 per cent) and access to childcare (20 per cent), as per the report.

It also revealed that only 53 per cent of the employers have a complete awareness of the act and its provisions. Only 40 per cent of all employers surveyed provide the mandated 26 weeks of paid maternity leave. As per the report, 53 per cent believe that the act is not cost-effective at present, but that it will be beneficial in the long run.

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The report claims that male employees (around 36 per cent) believe that the Maternity Benefit Act was one-sided. As per the study, they also were of the opinion (45 per cent of the respondent) that both parents should get paid leave for childcare.

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“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,” as per the report.

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