In a landmark order, the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has asked the Odisha government to make crèche facility available for babies in government offices having 50 or more women employees as per the Maternity Benefit Act.
A full bench of the State’s apex rights body headed by chairman Justice Bijoy Krushna Patel, members Justice Raghubir Dash and Asim Amitabh Dash passed the order on Friday.
The State Chief Secretary and Principal Secretary to the Women and Child Development department have been asked to ensure implementation of crèche facility in government offices in the next six months.
The rights body passed the order while hearing a petition filed by five lawyers.
As per Rule 11 of the Maternity Benefit Act, amended in the year 2017, it is mandatory for establishments employing 50 or more women employees to offer crèche facility with the cost to be borne by the employers.
In their petition filed on October 9, 2019, the petitioners highlighted unavailability of crèche for women employees in their workplaces despite the legal provision.
“Crèche facility has not been provided to women in their workplaces starting from Secretariat to Orissa High Court. Even Toshali Bhawan which houses the several rights bodies including OHRC does not have crèche for women employees,” the petitioners stated.
Acting on the petition, the OHRC had served a notice to the State Women and Child Development (WCD) department. The Principal Secretary of the department submitted response in this regard on November 11, 2021.
The WCD Principal Secretary informed the Commission that the department had written letters to all establishments having 50 or more women employees to install crèche on their premises.