Even as the United Nations Children’s Fund stresses the importance of breastfeeding, working mothers across India find it difficult to nurse their kids post their maternity leave. The Maternity Benefits Act, India, 1961, section 11, states that “Every woman delivered of a child who returns to duty after such delivery shall, in addition to the interval for rest allowed to her, be allowed in the course of her daily work two breaks of the prescribed duration for nursing the child until the child attains the age of fifteen months.” The actual execution of Section 11 of this act is rare among corporate India.
Understanding the dilemma that working mothers face, Grameen Financial Services Private Limited or Grameen Koota, one of India’s leading microfinance institutions, has now permitted its women workforce with the option of extending their lunch breaks to feed their kids. With a view towards making the organization more women friendly, Grameen Koota now has allowed lactating mothers-employees with the option of extending their lunch breaks to an hour and a half, thereby giving them enough time to go home nurse their kids and get back to work. Additionally they have also been given the option of working from home, one day in a week.
About this new initiative, Udaya Kumar, CEO of Grameen Koota says, “We understand the problems that our women employees may face just when they are back from their maternity leaves, so to ease their return and to ensure that they continue to nurse their kids even while working, we have now made it easier for them to take nursing breaks. And our 1 day in the week, work from home option is an added benefit for these mothers.”
Echoing the sentiment, Suresh Krishna Grameen Koota, MD, adds, “Such options will ensure that our women employees understand that we as an organization care for their needs both as an individual and as working mothers as well.”
Grameen Koota’s maternity leave policy follows the Maternity Act, wherein female employees who have completed 80 days in the organization are eligible for 80 days leave and those falling under ESI are granted maternity leave as per ESI rules. In fact Grameen Koota also grants paternity leave of upto 10 days for all male employees that can be availed either one week prior or within 1 week of the birth of the child.