A recent proposal by NITI Aayog might push both public and private employers to increase the duration of paid maternity break to nine months. As per the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, this period is currently 26 weeks, or about six months. The aim is to bolster the participation of Indian women in the workforce, a domain where we paint a dismal picture in. A longer maternity break can give new mothers sufficient time to properly and undividedly care for their child in his or her early days.
Better financial planning needed?
In 2021-22, only 29.4% of women between ages 15-59 were formally integrated in India’s workforce, according to the periodic labour force survey (PLFS), 2021-22. NITI Aayog member VK Paul emphasised on the need of developing more childcare centers within workspaces, so that working women do not have to choose between managing their career and children.
Data by International Labour Organisation noted that around 220 million first-time mothers left the global workforce in 2020. As such, it becomes imperative to facilitate services like creches and other caregiving facilities for women to progress.
How to utilise a longer break?
A longer maternity break could also help mothers plan their finances for their imminent responsibility in a better way. This is extremely necessary, given that salaried women tend to earn one-fourth less than their male counterparts.
Pune-based financial planner Nema Buch advises adequate groundwork in this regard, so that young mothers can focus completely on their baby and themselves during the break.“Motherhood is amazing but changes in life and lifestyle can be overwhelming. That is why it is essential for them to actively participate in decisions related to financial planning and management in the family, especially when it comes to investments in asset classes such as equity. Childbirth in the family not only brings additional joys but as well as goals like child’s education, medical care etc., for which finances have to be planned well in advance.
Shifali Satsangee, another financial planner, lays out a list of expenses one must consider while planning motherhood. “You may need urgent funds for a variety of reasons, like prenatal and post pregnancy expenditures around pregnancy which may include medical/doctor visit expenses, setting up a room for the baby and baby essentials, hospitalization and emergency medical procedures. Get a health/life insurance policy including maternity benefit and costs.
“In addition to paid maternity break benefits, also start an SIP into a liquid fund to build up an emergency fund much before planning a family. You can also consider starting an SWP to receive a regular flow of money later when required”, she says.
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