Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
In some of the larger industrial concerns employers have voluntarily introduced maternity benefit schemes for their women workers, but, except in Bombay and the Central Provinces, where Acts of limited application have been passed, there is no legislation on the subject. As most people now accept the principle of maternity benefit for industrially employed women, it is unnecessary to put forward here any special plea for such a scheme. The general standard of life being so low, there can be little doubt that some form of maternity benefit would be of great value to the health of the woman worker and her child at a vulnerable period in the lives of both. We do not attach importance to the argument that compulsory maternity benefits will result in employers reducing the amounts already being paid to the minimum laid down by law. Most pioneers in the field of social betterment are not deterred by enactments compelling others to follow in their footsteps. Nor do we attach weight to the argument that legislation will result in an appreciable restriction of the employment of women who are an essential part of certain of the leading Indian industries. We believe the time is ripe for the introduction of legislation throughout India making a maternity benefit scheme compulsory in respect of women permanently employed in industrial establishments on full-time processes. We would exempt from such provisions seasonal and part-time workers and would confine legislation to those women employed full time in the perennial factories covered by the Factories Act. Some of us would like to see the legislation extended to women employed at the mines and on the docks, but the majority doubt whether the number of women in those industries likely to qualify for benefits is sufficient to justify this step.