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Policy for Menstrual pain Leave in India

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    4th Mar, 2023

Context

A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India answered a petition to approach the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development Ministry to frame a policy for menstrual leave.

About the petition:

  • The Apex court was hearing a petition seeking a direction to States to frame rules for granting menstrual pain leave for students and working women in workplaces.
  • The Supreme Court mentioned that there are different “dimensions” to menstrual pain leave, which though being a biological process, may also act as a “disincentive” for employers from engaging women in their establishments.

Laws supporting menstrual pain leave:

  • Bihar and Kerala are the only States which allow menstrual pain leave to women.
  • Section 14 of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961: It recognises and respect motherhood and maternity of working women.
  • Under Section 14, there is a provision for appointment of inspectors and says appropriate governments may appoint such officers and may define the local limits of jurisdiction within which they shall exercise their functions under this law.
  • However no government in India has created the post of inspectors; forget about the appointment of such inspectors.

Countries like the United Kingdom, China, Wales, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, Spain and Zambia were already providing menstrual pain leave in one form or the other.

Women workforce (The Numbers):

  • According to the Labour force participation Survey 2019-20, the pan-India labour force participation rate of females in the productive age (15-59 years) was 26.5% in 2018-19 as compared to 3% for males.
  • While 7% of urban women were employed in the regular wage and salaried category, about 59.6% of rural females was not only self-employed but 37.9% among them were helpers in household enterprises.

The low female LFPR is attributed to high participation of women (15 years & above) in domestic duties that is 55.7% in rural areas and 59.1% in urban areas in 2018-19.

Incentives for working women in India:

  • Maternity Benefits:
    • The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha in the year August 2016, has now also been approved by the Lok Sabha in the same year, March 2017.
    • The paid maternity leave in India is increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for working women.
    • This law is eligible for only those who work in an organization with a minimum of 10 employees.
    • The prenatal leave is also increased from 6 to 8 weeks.
    • A woman who is already a mother of 2 children is eligible for 12 weeks of maternity leave from the 3rd child.
    • If a woman adopts a child under the age of 3 months, then she is eligible for a leave of 12 weeks.
  • Paternity leave: In September 2017, pursuant to the enactment of Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, the Paternity Benefit Bill, 2018 (“PB Bill”) was proposed in the Lok Sabha by Maharashtra MP, Rajeev Satav.
    • The PB Bill mandated that paternity leave of fifteen days (extendable up to three months) be granted to new fathers.
    • The idea behind the PB Bill is to recognize that the role of a father as a contributor to child-rearing is of paramount importance, and to give new fathers the opportunity to bond with their children without compromising on their need to provide for their family.
  • Mahila Shram Yojana: a cash benefit scheme for rewarding working women.
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