The Maternity Benefit Act was first passed on 12th December, 1961. It was meant to ensure that the employment of working mothers was regulated both before and after childbirth as well as provide maternity, medical and several other benefits. The maximum period during which any woman was entitled to maternity benefits was set at twelve weeks. The bill passed on 11th August 2016 at Rajya Sabha seeks to increase the maternity leave to twenty six weeks for working women in the private and public sector. Before it can formally become a law, it will need to be voted through by the Lok Sabha and then gain the assent of the president.
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