Airtel raises paid maternity leave duration to 22 weeks


Bengaluru: Telecom service provider Bharti Airtel Ltd on Wednesday joined the list of companies that have increased the duration of paid maternity leave for women from 12 weeks to 22 weeks.

Companies are coming up with new leave policy after Union women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi in December said that the labour ministry has agreed to increase maternity leave in private sector from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, or six and a half months.

The labour ministry will have to amend the Maternity Benefit Act 1961 to bring about the change. The law currently allows women 12 weeks of maternity leave, during which employers must pay full wages.

Companies such as Nestlé India, Microsoft India, Flipkart and Telenor are already offering six months of maternity leave.

Bharti Airtel’s rival Vodafone India announced a new maternity policy in 2015 that offers 16 weeks of maternity leave. But if the Maternity Act is amended, Vodafone will have to further increase the leave days offered.

Bharti Airtel said its revised policy ensures that women will be provided the same, or an equivalent, role on return to duty after maternity leave.

“The rating of the employee for the assessment year will be based on the employee’s performance and contribution during the period she was working,” it said in a press release.

The company also said in case of adopting a child less than two years, women can avail 12 weeks of leave, and if the child is over two years, then women can take six weeks of paid leave.

Male employees, however, are eligible only for one week of paternity leave.