In an effort aimed to prevent the dropping out of women from the workforce, India's Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry is reportedly planning to make it mandatory for public and private companies to have child daycare facilities.
WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi had earlier proposed to extend maternity leave from the current 26 weeks to eight months to consolidate the presence of women in India's public and private workforce.
The WCD ministry has written to the corporate affairs ministry for its recommendations and to build consensus with all the companies and corporate establishments to set up daycare facilities or crÃ¨ches to address the concerns of an increasing number of women in the workforce, the Economic Times quoted its sources as saying.
The ministry has also engaged with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to help implement the initiative for woman employees.
The provisions under the existing Rajiv Gandhi National CrÃ¨che schemes state that employers are obliged to provide daycare facilities for children of women employees. Women working in the organised sector can also avail daycare facilities for their children under various other laws such as the Factories Act, 1948, Mines Act, 1952, Plantation Act, 1951, Inter-State Migrant Workers Act, 1980, and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005.
However, there are currently only 21,012 daycare facilities made available by employers throughout country.
Due to poor implementation of the existing laws, the WCD ministry has said the proposed law should be implemented with greater force, which also ensures the availability of such facilities across gram panchayats, construction companies and mining firms.
The ministry, in a proposal sent to a committee of secretaries in April, had said the daycare facilities should come up within four-five months, senior officials in the WCD ministry were quoted by the Economic Times as saying.
Gandhi has also proposed health cards for women for compulsory health check-ups on a regular basis. "We are proposing a compulsory health card for women making five to six most vital tests compulsory," she said.