July 2012 , I had delivered my older son, three months of ‘maternity leave’ later when I resumed work I remember being told that since I was being offered a work-from-home option my salary would be almost less than half of what it was prior to what it was. I chose not to make a big deal out of it then, how I wish I had. The work I was doing was in no way less than half, then why I wonder now, did I agree to the absolutely baseless plan.
When I look back at the structure of the organisation, I was perhaps the only mother there. I hope things are better now.
While the Women and Child Development Minister, Maneka Gandhi, has rallied hard to push the amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. One needs to wait and watch how much of the benefits actually accrue on the working women.
We are still battling mindsets that ask women questions such as, “when do you intend do get married? (If not married) what about children, have you given that any thought?” Then there are those employers who are not subtle in their ways at all. After passing out of college when I was job hunting, I came across one obnoxious senior counsel who told me he had never hired a ‘female’ advocate and never would. He said, ‘too much tension, handling them.’ 😱
The salient features of the amendment are:
- increase in maternity leave for women employed in private firms from the existing 12 weeks to 32 weeks.
- in turn ensuring that the mother is able to breast-feed the child for 6 months atleast
Companies like Flipkart, HUL, Godrej, Inmobi, HCL, among others have good maternity policies in place which are pro-women employees.