Recently, the Sikkim government has announced a decision to provide 12-month maternity leave and one-month paternity leave to its employees.
What are the present rules for maternity leave in States?
Maternity leave is a period of time when a woman takes a break from work following the birth of a child.
In India, maternity leave allows a woman employee to take time off work when her child is born.
Maternity Benefit Act of 1961: Under the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961, female employees were only entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave.
The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more.
Maternity Benefits Act of 2017: The Maternity Benefits Act of 2017 increased the period to 26 weeks. Furthermore, noncompliance with the laws and regulations carries a penalty.
DPSP: The Directive Principle of State Policy (DPSP) states that "the State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief."
Employees' State Insurance Act, 1948 (ESIA) and the Central Civil Services Rules, 1972: Under the following scheme all non-season factories which run on power with the capacity of more than 10 employees are covered.
International convention: Members of International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted a resolution in an international convention on economic and social rights in 2004 adopted a resolution providing equal opportunity for women.
At this conference, a resolution was passed to give 14 weeks of maternity leave to women.
India is a member of the ILO.
Important Government Interventions for Maternity benefits
Janani Suraksha Yojana under the National Health Mission to link cash assistance to institutional deliveries.
Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA) provides a fixed day for assured, comprehensive and quality antenatal care free of cost to pregnant women on 9th of every month.
Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana
Key-details of Sikkim’s Policy:
Himalayan state – Sikkim – has the lowest population in India, around 6.32 lakh.
Thus, in order to boost the population of indigenous communities in Sikkim, the state government, through a notification, decided to provide advance and additional increments to its employees having two or three children with retrospective effect from 1 January, 2023.
The notification mentioned Department of Personnel of the state government employees possessing Sikkim Subject Certificate/Certificate of Identification shall get one advanced increment for having two surviving children.
Sikkim became the 22nd State of India included in the Constitution (36th Amendment) Act 1975. Located in the eastern Himalayas. It is one of the smallest states in India.
Roughly three-fourths of Sikkim’s residents are Nepalese in origin; most speak a Nepali (Gorkhali) dialect and are Hindu in religion and culture.
About one-fifth of the population consists of Scheduled Tribes (an official category embracing indigenous peoples who fall outside the predominant Indian social hierarchy).
The most prominent of these tribal groups are the Bhutia, the Lepcha, and the Limbu; they all speak Tibeto-Burman languages and practice Mahayana Buddhism as well as the indigenous religion.
There is a notable Christian minority in Sikkim, as well as a tiny community of Muslims.
A small fraction of Sikkim’s people belong to the Scheduled Castes (an official term designating those peoples who traditionally have occupied a low position within the Indian caste system).
Significance of the policy:
The scheme will help in conservation of Indigenous Tribal population.
Bhutia: The Bhutia are a community of Sikkimese people living in the state of Sikkim in north-eastern India, who speak Drenjongke or Sikkimese, a Tibetic language fairly mutually intelligible with standard Tibetan.
In 2001, the Bhutia numbered around 60,300. Bhutia here refers to people of Tibetic ancestry.
Lepcha: Lepcha is a tribe of Himalayan range live at the North-East corner of India. They largely reside at Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Bhutan, Sikkim and Darjeeling. They have also migrated in other North-Eastern States for economic reason.
Limbu: The Limbu are of Mongolian stock and speak a language belonging to the Kiranti group of Tibeto-Burman languages. It has its own alphabet (the Kirat-Sirijonga script), believed to have been invented in the 9th century.
Furthermore, it would lead to the conservation of culture and ethnicity: Sikkim’s cultural life, though showing strong Tibetan influences, retains a character derived from the various tribes of Sikkim and their pre-Buddhist customs.
Many monasteries are repositories of wall paintings, thang-kas (religious paintings mounted on brocade), bronze images, and other artworks