Many individuals appreciated the amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act that went into effect in April 2017. The act is praised for ensuring women's equality in the workplace while also prioritising their health.
The amendment increases the paid maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks. Furthermore, every company with more than 50 employees is required to provide a crèche facility for working mothers.
These amendments are progressive, and received widespread support from the people. When it comes to the workplace, however, this act has done more harm than good for women.
According to an independent survey, the majority of small and midsize enterprises and startups avoid hiring married women employees due to paid maternity leave. They claimed that the cost of paid maternity leave has a negative impact on the company's spending and profitability.
Ironically, the statute that was designed to benefit women has the opposite effect on their careers. Apart from this, increasing paid maternity leave could put a strain on small businesses and startups, something the legislature missed while drafting the revisions to the statute.
While making the amendments, legislators should consider the effects of cost and revenue on small businesses and startups, and they may come up with some flexibility for the businesses as well.
The best alternative would be if the government promised to pay for it entirely or substantially with public funds. This rule exists in 58 percent of other nations, where they fund maternity leave through social security. This way they will relieve the burden on small businesses and startups.
There could be a slew of other options worth considering in order to strike a balance between companies’ revenue and paid time off. This will encourage employers to hire more women.