Creche Facility Provision & Management

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 extends to the whole of the Indian Union. The State Governments are empowered to extend the provisions of the Act to any other establishment subject to the prior approval of the Central Government. The Act also applies to shops and commercial establishments in which 10 or more persons are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding 12 months, and establishments wherein persons are employed for the exhibition of equestrian, acrobatic and other performances.

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 was amended recently by the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017. This amendment became effective from April 01, 2017. One of the amendments impose a mandatory requirement that makes crèche facility mandatory for every establishment employing 50 or more employees. Also, provision needs to be made for women employees to be able to visit the crèche facility for a total of four times in their work day. This has been made the responsibility of the employers of such establishments. The provision on crèche facility (Section 11 A) became effective from July 01, 2017. The Central Government has notified that all States shall make rules concerning crèche facilities. Various state governments are in the process of doing so.

IMPACT FOR EMPLOYERS

Provision of Crèche facilities to employees under the amended law is now a mandatory compliance point, which is the responsibility of the employer and also at the cost of the employer. There is a penal consequence of fine and imprisonment if crèche facility is not provided.

Companies have multiple options to be compliant under the amended law. They can choose to build their own crèche facility on-site or create shared facilities with neighbouring employersor partner with an established crèche provider.

MODEL 1 – ON-SITE CRECHE FACILITY (IN-HOUSE OR SHARED BASIS)
MODEL 2 – CRECHE PARTNERS (DAYCARE (SINGLE OR MULTI) TIE-UPS)

When presented with a choice, companies have picked partnerships with an established crèche provider over building one on-site. However, some states like Maharashtra have already come out with guidelines that the crèche facility needs to be within 1 km of the place of employment. Under the draft Maternity Benefit (Crèche in the Mine Establishments) Rules, 2018 published by the Government for public comments (and which shall apply mutatis mutandis to the maternity benefit amendments), the distance of crèche is provided as 500 meters only. Also, crèches need to be open at all times during day and night when employees are working.This creates challenges.

Moreover, crèche facilities once set up or partnered with become a part of the corporate facilities of an employer. This means that a complex interplay of law and compliances concerning health and safety would apply and become the end-responsibility of the employer.

HOW COHERE CONSULTANTS CAN HELP

Cohere Consultants is a niche legal and compliance practice in workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and maternity in employment. It has been providing solutions to corporate employers in this space since 2011. Some of its clients include Accenture, HSBC, Zomato, Hero and Vishal Megamart amongst others.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment through its research arm, the V. V. Giri National Labour Institute has recently identified Cohere Consultants as a partner for verifying and documenting trends and good practices in maternity and crèche facilities across India.

At Cohere Consultants, we provide advisory services and fact-based solutions across both models while ensuring all legal and statutory compliances. These include:

  • Providing advisory services and sourcing assistance on design and implementation of either model;
  • Conducting due diligence and risk assessments on potential tie-ups;
  • Conducting audits - Assessing locations, evaluating nearby daycare options and providingcrèche screening reports to employers to choose care providers and crèche facilities.
  • Conducting compliance checks – As every state has different rules, checks are location based to ensure that models opted for by employers are legally compliant;
  • Providing services for design, preparation, implementation and awareness generation around all maternity and crèche related internal policiesas well as public facing policies for employees and legal authorities;
  • Structuring of all legal agreements for relationship management between vendors, suppliers, service providers etc.and risk minimization;
  • Development of protocols and SOPs for standardization of crèche services and crèche management based on national and international standards;
  • Conducting annual SLA reviews and regular audits of policies and systems on an ongoing basis;
  • Providing training as per ministry compliant certification to managers, staff and caregivers of crèches;
  • Providing complaint management and grievance redressal services, which are compliant with laws on sexual harassment, laws concerning crimes against children and also health and safety laws and guidelines relevant to crèches;
  • Providing advisory services and support for emergency intervention and FAQs and support on queries about crèche facilities;
  • Providing advisory support for maintenance of records as per prescribed law.

Services can be provided on a stand-alone basis or as an end-to-end solution depending on needs and requirements.