The Ministry of Women and Child Development vide its office memorandum dated November 2, 2018 has published the Guidelines-“National Minimum Guidelines for Setting Up and Running Crèches under Maternity Benefit Act, 2017 (“Crèche Guidelines”).” The Indian Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (“Maternity Act”) was amended last year, making it mandatory for all establishments employing 50 or more employees to set up a crèche facility. However, there was a lack of clarity on the technical and specific requirements with respect to setting up the crèche facility and the ancillary services that should be provided at a crèche.
The Crèche Guidelines comes as a most welcome measure providing a list of standard practices and norms that an employer may implement to fulfill the requirement under the Maternity Act.
Few key highlights of the Crèche Guidelines are as mentioned below.
- Applicability: There should be a crèche facility for every 30 children and the crèche should be available to children of the age group of 6 months to 6 years for all employees, including temporary, daily wage, consultant and contractual personnel.
- Location: The crèche should be located within or near to the workplace or within 500 meters from the beneficiaries’ neighborhood. The employer is required to allow a woman to visit the crèche 4 times in a day.
- Timings: The working hours of the crèche should be streamlined with the parents’ working hours, keeping in mind the best interest of the children. The Crèche Guidelines recommend that the crèche facility should be ideally open for 8 to 10 hours.
- Crèche Monitoring Committee: The Crèche Guidelines provides for the establishment of a Crèche Monitoring Committee (“Committee”) which would be responsible for the overall protection of the children, including inter alia receiving complaints, conducting enquiries and recommending redressal actions. Further, the Crèche Guidelines also provide for a draft child protection policy that must be adopted by every establishment and administered by the Committee.
- Human Resource: As per the Crèche Guidelines, every crèche should have at least an adult and a helper for every 10 children below the age of 3 years and an adult and a helper for every 20 children below the age of 6 years. Apart from the above, every crèche facility should also have a crèche-in-charge and a guard. All crèche personnel should undergo child safety training and satisfy background verification. Person appointed as the guard is mandatorily required to undergo police verification.
- Other Norms and Standards: The Crèche Guidelines also provides for standard norms with respect to nutrition and health practices, crèches infrastructure requirements, and equipment safety standards.
The Crèche Guidelines clearly evidence the intention of the Indian government to protect the interest of the children and guarantee their safety in such day care and crèche facilities, further ensuring that working parents are given the adequate support that is required. The Crèche Guidelines while not mandatory as yet, will certainly act as a framework for State governments to formulate rules with respect to the establishment and operation of crèche facilities under the Maternity Act.