<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three months after the Ministry of Labour asked the PMO to approve an ordinance with the provisions of the Maternity Benefits Bill, 2015, to benefit pregnant women between the passage of the bill in both the houses of the Parliament, the PMO is yet to respond. With just a month to go before the start of the winter session of the Parliament, it is unlikely that the government pass the ordinance.When the bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha in August, the Ministry of Labour wrote to the PMO asking for an ordinance that would benefit women who are already pregnant. The idea was to help as many women as possible, and the idea was initially mooted by Maneka Gandhi, Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development.The Parliament session starts in a month and without any reply, it looks like the ordinance will not come in place. “We had written to the PMO in August, and are still awaiting for any comments or confirmation,” said a labour ministry official.This year alone, there have been five instances of the government passing ordinances, including four in The Enemy Property Act, and one in the The Dentists (Amendment) Act. In 2015, there were 12 ordinances, including three in The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Act, and two in the The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Act. There were also ordinances in the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act in 2015 and 2014. There were six ordinances in 2014.Ordinances have a validity of six months, and after it lapses, the government needs to promulgate for a fresh one. If an ordinance has been issued in a particular bill, and it is not passed in the succeeding session of the Parliament within four weeks, it lapses.The government’s stand is baffling, considering the number of ordinances it has okayed till it came to power in 2014.The bill, drafted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha by the Union Minister of Labour and Employment, Bandaru Dattatreya. It proposes to increase the existing maternity leave benefit of 12 weeks to 26 weeks. It also seeks to increase the mandatory minimum time of six weeks of pregnancy to eight weeks to avail the benefits of the bill.Apart from that, benefits of 12 weeks of maternity leave will be extended to adoptive and commissioning mothers. The option to work from home and crèche facilities are other provisions that the bill proposes.However, the bill will benefit only 18 lakh women in the organised sector, leaving out over the 96% of women engaged in the unorganised sector. Also, in the case of women with two or more children, the benefits will continue to be 12 weeks, and the benefits cannot be availed before six weeks from the date of the expected delivery.

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PMO silence signals no ordinance in Maternity Bill