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Report: Approx 1.8 Million Women May Lose Jobs After Maternity Law Changes

New Delhi: India the most progressive country after Canada and Norway in enabling women to stay on in the workforce, will probably lead to job losses and discourage smaller businesses and start-ups from hiring women, the survey by TeamLease Services Ltd. said on Tuesday. An estimated 1.1 million to 1.8 million women will lose their jobs across 10 sectors in the financial year to March 2019 because of the law, the survey showed.

That is bad news for a country where the share of women in the workforce has shrunk to around 24 percent in the fiscal year ended 2016 from 36 percent a decade earlier. McKinsey and Co. estimates more than $700 billion could be added to the country's gross domestic product by 2025 if more women were in jobs.

In socially conservative India, women are often discouraged from pursuing a career. Many drop out to take care of older family members or children. In the eight years since 2004, about 20 million women from India's workforce, the World Bank estimates.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government introduced the law that entitles women working in the organized sector to 26 weeks paid maternity leave, up from 12 weeks.

Post-maternity retention could cost 80 percent to 90 percent of the annual salary for white collar employees, and up to 135 percent of annual salary for blue collar employees, the survey said.