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Motherhood is one of the beautiful emotions one woman goes through. There are times when your baby needs you the most, but instead of letting his tiny hands hold your finger, you’ve to get back to your office desk. Making a choice between your infant’s giggles and your work’s deadlines is nothing but a challenge, and this dilemma gets raised many folds when your maternity leave doesn’t provide you the desired relaxation.
For all those mothers who are juggling heads with their office documents while spoon feeding their babies, the recent announcement made by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa regarding the extended maternity leave from present six months to nine for all government employees would be a straw in this drowning situation. However, private sector employees are still far from being blessed with this boon. According to the new Maternity Benefit Bill, maternity leave for private sector employees has been enhanced to 26 weeks (6 months) from existing 12 weeks. Last month, the Rajya Sabha passed an amendment bill regarding this proposal. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, which is yet to be passed by the Lok Sabha, will also provide 12 weeks of maternity leave for women who adopt children and women who get babies via surrogate mothers.
While India is taking more concerned and meaningful steps in making things a bit easier for working mothers of newly born, there are some apparently developed countries which are way behind her in this league. There is still zero mandated maternity leave benefits in the U.S., although companies with over 50 employees are obligated to offer three months of unpaid time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act. This makes the U.S. one of the only four countries in the world with no required paid maternity leave. The others are Liberia, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea. In countries like Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Russia, etc., there’s a ruling for maternity leave of 12-18 weeks only.
Sweden offers the most generous maternity leave policy, with 56 weeks paid at 80 percent of citizens’ salary, and 13 additional weeks paid at a fixed rate thereafter.
Apart from India, maternity leave provided in different countries across the world along with the number of weeks paid is given below.
Maternity leave is not just a time off for child care. It’s a basic right every mother should hold as motherhood cannot be limited with carrying a foetus in your womb. It’s about letting your child feel your presence whenever he learns a new word or makes a new move. Moreover, the government’s responsibility doesn’t end with increasing the duration of maternity leave. It needs to make sure that working mothers get a proper share of their salary during the leave. For a mother who’s already struggling with raising a child, the worst she could come to know about is that her country ensures no job security for women like her!