As we had communicated earlier, the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India (Ministry of Labour) vide Official Gazette notification dated 31 March 2017 (Notification) had appointed 1 April 2017 as the date on which the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 (MB Amendment Act) would come into force. However, the relevant provision in relation to the “work from home” option under Section 3(5) of the MB Amendment Act was scheduled to be made effective from 1 July 2017.
The rationale for designating a separate effective date for implementing the “work from home” option was also unclear, given the fact that “work from home” is an enabling provision (and not a statutory requirement) to encourage employers to provide such option depending upon nature of work being handled by the concerned woman. Moreover, various aspects relating to the crèche facility needed further clarity such as the time period up to which the crèche facility could be extended to the concerned woman, availability of crèche facilities, possibility of provision of crèche facilities by third parties, permissible distance of crèche facility from workplace, dimensions, whether fees be charged for availing crèche facility and other related aspects.
Corrigendum issued by Ministry of Labour
The Ministry of Labour has issued a corrigendum on 3 April 2017 in relation to the Notification. As per the Corrigendum, the effective date of 1 July 2017 would be for crèche facilities which was specified under Section 4 of the MB Amendment Act and not for the provisions concerning the aspect of “work from home” contained in Section 3(5).
The corrigendum has provided further clarity on the MB Amendment Act. Now, except for provisions relating to crèche facilities, all other provisions of the MB Amendment Act have become effective. All establishments covered under the MB Amendment Act would be required to amend their existing maternity benefit policies in accordance with the MB Amendment Act with effect from 1 April 2017.
With the provision concerning crèche facility now scheduled to be effective from 1 July 2017, the Ministry of Labour is expected to assess the practical difficulties and economic implications which the implementation of crèche facility may entail and accordingly come out with clarifications and rules on the manner in which crèche facility may be extended to the employees as also in respect of service outsourcing and cost sharing.