The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 has come into force on March 28, 2017 after receiving the assent from the President on March 27, 2017. The major changes
brought by the amended Act, compared with the provisions of the earlier Act, are given here under:

Duration of maternity leave: Increases the duration of the maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks which can be availed prior to 8 weeks from the date of expected delivery (earlier it was 6 weeks prior).

As per section 5 (3), third child onwards, maternity leave to be for 12 weeks which can be availed 6 weeks prior.

Further, the following new provisions have added by the amendment:

  • Maternity leave for adoptive and commissioning mothers: Maternity leave of 12 weeks to:
    (i) Adoptive mothers (adopts a child below 3 months of age);
    (ii) Commissioning mother .
    As per Section 5(4), the period to be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the said mothers.
  • Crèche facilities: To be provided by an establishment with 50 or more employees within a prescribed distance.
    Four visits in a day to crèche should be allowed.
  • Option to work from Home: as per Section 5(5), employer to permit a woman to work from home, if the nature
    of work permits her to do so and the same can be availed after the completion of her maternity leave for a duration
    mutually decided.
  • Employer to inform the woman of maternity benefits: as per Section 11 (a) woman to be informed at the time of
    appointment, of the maternity benefits available, either in writing or electronically.

The Payment of Wages (Amendment) Act, 2017
The Payment of Wages (Amendment) Act, 2017 changes the method of payment of wages to the employees. Now the employer can pay wages to its employees by the following modes without obtaining written authorisation (as required earlier):

  • in coin or currency notes; or
  • by cheque; or
  • by crediting them into his bank account.

The Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Act, 2015
The salient features of the amendment Act is as follows:

  • The eligibility limit for the statutory bonus has been increased from INR 10,000 (Indian Rupees ten thousand) per month to INR 21,000 (Indian Rupees twenty-one thousand) per month.
  • The Bonus Act allowed calculation of bonus proportional to the salary of the worker. For this purpose, the upper limit of salary was fixed at INR 3,500 (Indian Rupees three thousand, five hundred). This meant that the bonus of a person earning more than INR 3,500 (Indian Rupees three thousand, five hundred) would still be calculated taking INR 3,500 (Indian Rupees three thousand, five hundred) as the benchmark. Due to the increase in the eligibility salary, the Bonus Amendment Act has also increased the calculation limit to INR 7,000 (Indian Rupees seven thousand) or the minimum wage for the employment, whichever is higher. It is seen that this increase may cause difficulties to companies having a national presence, as the minimum wage rates across states may differ.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016
The salient features of the amendment Act is as follows:

  • The prohibition on employment of children below the age of 14 (fourteen) years has been retained in certain
    professions such as bidi-making, mines, domestic work and power loom industries. In other professions, child
    labour is prohibited unless the child is involved in the family profession or trade after his/her school hours.
  • A new category, adolescent, has been added − defined as persons between the ages of 14 (fourteen) years to 18 (eighteen) years. The adolescents are prohibited from employment in hazardous industries, as listed out in the
    Amendment Act. However, this list of prohibited hazardous industries has been substantially reduced from the erstwhile list in the earlier Act.
  • The penalties have also been increased to imprisonment ranging from 6 (six) months to 2 (two) years and a fine in the range of INR 20,000 (Indian Rupees Twenty thousand) to INR 50,000 (Indian Rupees Fifty thousand).

The Employees’ State Insurance (Central) Amendment Rules, 2016
The Employees’ State Insurance Rules, 1950 ensure implementation of the provisions of the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948. The Rules have been amended 4 times since June 2016. The major changes brought by the various amendments are as under:

  • An employee whose average daily wage is upto INR 137 is exempted from contribution (earlier it was INR 100).
  • In areas where the Act is implemented for the first time, the rates of contribution for initial 24 months for
    Employer – 3% of the wages and for Employee – 1% of the wages.
  • Wage limit for coverage of an employee has been enhanced from INR 15,000 to 21,000.
  • Includes a commissioning mother and an adopting mother.

Model Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill:
Model Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2016 (MS Bill) has been prepared by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India to increase employment and productivity in the country.

MS Bill has been circulated to all States/UTs for adoption with appropriate modification. The said Bill inter alias provides for freedom to operate an Establishment for 365 days in a year without any restriction on opening/closing time and enables employment of women during night shifts if adequate safety provisions exist.

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