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Ministry bats for crèches at the workplace

A central directive on crèches at the workplace holds promise of helping all working women, reports Team B&C

In a major comfort to working women with small children in the state, crèches at the work place may soon become  reality with a recent notification from the Ministry of Labour and Welfare, mandating that, every establishment having fifty or more employees shall have the facility of a crèche

The notification issued on November 2, 2018, is expected to be of major help to local working women with small babies as most of them are forced to ask a family member to look after the infant or sometimes go on extended maternity leave.

The notification is applicable to every employer or institution covered under the Maternity Benefit Act. To facilitate the setting up of crèches by employers, guidelines have been laid down by the ministry of women and child development (WCD).

The guidelines are based on scientific principles of early childhood development and attempt to meet the best interests of the young children and the parent.

The minimum guidelines for children between six months to six years take into account parameters such as location, timing, infrastructure, equipment, health and nutrition, safety and protection, trained human resource and parent’s engagement, among others.

There are many advantages at having a crèche at or near the workplace. For instance, it is helpful for breast feeding and parent can be immediately contacted incase the child needs attention. The only difficulty is in getting the infant to the workplace, especially if travelling by public transport or in extreme weather conditions.

As per the WCD guidelines, the crèche timings should suit the parent. Most work eight hours a day and the timings of the crèche should be open for eight-ten hours. “In case the organization works in shifts then the crèche should also be run in shifts,” says the guidelines.

The WCD norms also mentions on the space of the crèche. The minimum space needs to be 10-12 sq ft per child and the room should have proper light, ventilation and drinking water supply with purifier. The recommendation is for different stay area for children, depending on the age group.

The WCD norms for crèches runs into about 50 pages. It covers all concerns of a parent such as an attendant, keeping chemicals or sharp objects from the premises, fire safety, CCTV camera,  changing diapers, availability of dustbins, trained personnel, etc.

In Goa despite the state being considered as better than others in terms of social parameters, child care support at the workplace remains scarce. Several women are known to leave lucrative jobs because of the absence of child care at home.

According to the registrar general of India, work participation rate for women stands at 25 per cent which is among the lowest in the world.   With changes in the social and demographic profile of families, crèches have become a necessity, says the ministry of labour notification.

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