In light of recent notifications on crèche rules from states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Haryana and Kerala, which covers a large share of corporate India and public interest litigations (PILs) being filed by employees, companies are taking cognizance of the crèche provision under the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act and acting on it. There are multiple decision points for a company before rolling out the crèche benefit. Companies need to consider the following:
- Nature of arrangement – It could be tie-ups with near site daycare centres or providing onsite daycare facilities. Location of the company and demand are considered by companies before finalising this.
- Distance – In case of near site, distance needs to be considered. ProEves conducted a crèche benefit survey which saw participation by 117 companies. The survey reveals that 72% of companies are looking for near site crèche support, out of which 41% are considering under 3km to provide the safest, nearest daycare to their employees. Recent state notifications on crèche rules specify the distance for providing a crèche facility. In Maharashtra, the crèche rules specify a distance of under 1 kilometre, while in Haryana and Karnataka, government notifications state a distance of up to 500 metres from the place of work. In case companies are not able to provide a near site daycare within the specified distance, they can provide an exception report with the rationale for the same.
- Space – In case of onsite daycare, space is an important element to be considered. Haryana crèche
notification states that crèche should have a minimum space of 6-8 sq. ft. per child and Karnataka rules mention minimum space of 5 sq ft per child, whereas the Factory’s Act states 20 sq ft per child. Most leading daycares in India provide 30-35 sq ft per child. The minimalistic guidelines on space may encourage more companies to opt for onsite crèches; however companies must ensure quality daycare service is provided which working parents can utilise.
- Quality and Safety – Companies need to screen and verify daycares and daycare partners when they provide near site or onsite daycare facilities. This includes ensuring child proof furniture, access to CCTV, qualified teachers and staff verification, emergency services, and a fully equipped first aid box. They must also seek references from parents who are currently using the centre.
- Funding of the benefit – State notifications are silent on this. The legal view on this is that companies need to fully fund the benefit as the Act states that companies need to provide for the benefit. ProEves crèche benefit research states that few companies (less than 20%) are fully funding the benefit, close to 50% are funding the benefit up to 50% and the remaining are partly funding at a lesser amount or not funding currently.
With state notifications on crèche rules, companies are getting their act together on this. Large companies, including banks, NBFCs, FMCG companies, and insurance companies are unable to find standardised solutions across locations. A number of them are turning to ProEves to support them with pan India daycare tie-ups across locations and to help manage their daycare benefit programs on an ongoing basis.
Research by ProEves on the return of investment on Childcare and Maternity practices reveals that crèche support has the highest ROI in terms of greater positive impact and a relatively lower implementation challenge. Proven positive impact associated with crèche benefits has increased maternity engagement, maternity retention, and gained the trust of employees through demonstrating a commitment to diversity.
Divya Agarwal (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Co Founder ProEves, India’s leading childcare and maternity support provider.