GUWAHATI, May 22 - The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) on Friday condemned the reported denial of maternity leave to a Guwahati-based journalist and the manner in which she was forced to resign from her position in a local news channel.
The Network demanded that the National Commission for Women and the Assam State Commission for Women take suo moto cognisance of the issue.
The Maternity Benefit [Amendment] Act, 2017 provides for paid maternity leave for women for 12 weeks in addition to paid leave and extension of leave without pay or work from home facilities.
Demanding immediate reinstatement of the scribe, the NWMI asserted it is a gross violation of her rights that she was forced to resign by the highest authority of the news channel on the ground that the organisation had no provision of maternity leave for its employees.
“This incident is particularly distressing at a time when media houses across the country are effecting job losses, wage cuts and forced leave without pay during an unprecedented lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic... These unethical and patently illegal actions have jeopardised journalists’ careers everywhere,” the Network said in a statement.
It quoted the woman scribe as claiming that the news channel’s CMD had told her that the organisation has “no facilities for maternity leave and no salary will be paid” and then directed her to submit her resignation letter.
The NWMI in its statement said that it “deplores the manner in which a media organisation, the primary duty and responsibility of which is to uphold the principles and values of a democratic and just society, respect for the rule of law and the rights of individuals and institutions, has failed to provide a basic right to its employees that they are entitled to under the law of the land.”
Expressing shock at the “disregard” for the law by the news channel and its contention that the organisation has no provision for paid leave or any other facility for maternity leave, the NWMI said “it is patently illegal and indefensible”.
Every establishment in the country is governed by the Maternity Benefits Act and the news channel is not above law.
The statement further said: “NWMI strongly condemns discrimination against women scribes over pregnancy and motherhood.”
Such attitudes and policies only serve to create a hostile environment at the work place, it said and demanded that the private TV channel allow the journalist to withdraw her resignation letter, resume her duties with immediate effect and subsequently avail the maternity leave to which she is legally entitled. – PTI