In an Office Memorandum dated 2nd November, 2018, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (“Ministry”) has released the ‘National Minimum Guidelines for Setting Up and Running Crèche’ (“Guidelines”) under Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 (MBA 2017).
At the outset, the Guidelines states that it can be used as a reference resource by government offices, companies and all other establishments under the purview of the MBA 2017. [ Emphasis Supplied]
Very slowly, but surely the State Government/s are coming out with State Centric Rules on Crèche facility. For example, till now only the State/s of Karnataka and Haryana have released crèche rules under the Maternity benefit amendment act.
These present guidelines are recommendatory in nature and are expected to go a long way as a good practice/reference document in setting up a crèche.
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, effective 1st April, 2017 has mandated crèche facilities in establishment/s employing 50 or more employees. The Act protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a ‘maternity benefit’, i.e., full paid absence from work to take care for her child. The Act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons and the crèche facility is mandatory for every establishment employing 50 or more employees.
For employers, lack of good quality and affordable childcare for their employees can translate into absenteeism, lower productivity and difficulty in recruiting skilled employees. The Guideline has been established to enable and facilitate the employer for establishing and managing the crèche facility. The Guidelines will serve a helpful start to employers to take decisions about guaranteeing minimums standards of quality care at crèches run at their premises, close to their area of operations, or in the neighborhoods close to the children’s homes.
- The use of crèche facility is proposed to be extended to children of age group of 6 months to 6 years of all employees including temporary, daily wage, consultant and contractual personnel;
- The Center should be near/at the workplace site or in the beneficiaries neighborhood, within 500 meters;
- The timings of the crèche must be flexible based on the working hours of the parents. Therefore, the crèche should open for 8 hours to 10 hours. It should always respond to the needs of the parents and keep the best interest of the children as well.
- A crèche Centre must have a minimum space of 10 to 12 sq. ft. per child to ensure that children can play, rest, and learn.
- Age appropriate curriculum for 6 months to 3 years and 3 years to 6 years should be provided as a guide to carry out the above activities. A daily schedule should be prepared and followed to ensure a balance between child initiated and teacher-directed activities.
- The crèche facility must have adequate materials for cleaning, with preventive measures to minimize the spread of germs. The Centre must have a safe and potable drinking water source with a water purifier installed. Fire extinguishing equipment and other firefighting material should be provided at the Centre. Evacuation plan should be planned and displayed at the crèche.
- A crèche unit would have up to 30 children. The adult: child ratio has been enlisted as follows:
- 1:10 for the under 3s, plus one helper.
- 1:20 for the 3 to 6 years, plus one helper
- One crèche in-charge in each case
- Minimum wages as per the State norms for social security must be paid as Salary / remuneration of the workers.
- A Sample of Child Protection Policy has also been provided. The Organization must undertake proactive measures to prevent child abuse in any form at workplace and within its operating hours.
- Appropriate health practices must be ensured so that every child undergoes a regular medical check-up, preferably on monthly basis by a qualified medical practitioner. It can be either be done at the Centre or the parents could provide a medical card in which the medical records are maintained. In case a child is undergoing a treatment, parent’s authorization would be required to administer the medicine. Immunization schedule under Indradhanush Programme of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is annexed to the guidelines.
- Selection criteria for the workers have been enlisted in the Guideline, where the preferred age group for crèche staff is 20 to 40 years. A childcare worker must be 10th pass, and a helper must be 8th pass. The crèche in charge must be a graduate. Identified group of women should go through the prescribed training. Appointments to be made based on assessment of their skills, knowledge and attitude post training. Preference must be given to the women living in nearby areas for easy accessibility and availability. All selected workers must undergo prescribed pre-service training before starting to work with children at the crèche. The Role of the Crèche Staff Members has also been specified.
- To ensure that the guidelines are followed a Monitoring Committee will be established. The Committee will constitute of 3 -4 Parents, Crèche worker, Crèche Supervisor, HR / Admin Officer.