Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Where maternity benefits form part of a complete State insurance scheme, no difficulties arise in obtaining contributions from industrially employed women, since these contributions are paid throughout against the incidence of sickness in general, including periods of confinement. In the absence of a State system of social insurance, however, the question of obtaining contributions from women to a maternity benefit scheme is not easy to arrange. There are two ways in which a woman could be asked to bear her share. The first method would involve payment of contributions throughout her working life; this would mean, not only prolonged payment even beyond child-bearing age, but also payment by women who could not or did not have children. The second method would require the women to pay a fair contribution during the actual period of pregnancy; this essentially involves early certification of pregnancy, and in our view the lack of women doctors, together with the reluctance of the Indian woman to consult a male doctor, makes the plan impracticable. Under present circumstances we do not recommend that the woman worker should be asked to pay any periodical contribution. While a system involving State contributions or Government grants is desirable and would not be administratively impracticable, it is more than likely, in the absence of any general scheme of sickness insurance of which maternity benefits would form an integral part, that it would involve a disproportionate administrative cost. At this stage, therefore, we suggest a more general extension of the schemes already in operation in Bombay and the Central Provinces. In those the entire cost of the benefit is borne by the employer, and we recommend that, in the first instance, the proposed legislation should follow these lines. Government should have the power to exempt individual firms whose existing schemes are shown to be at least as liberal as those laid down in the Act. In the event of any general scheme of social insurance being adopted, maternity benefits should be incorporated and the cost shared by the State, the employer and the worker.