While working in a n a public or private enterprise, when a woman is going through her pregnancy, the paid leaves that are allocated to her are known as maternity benefits. The paid leaves are given in accordance to the average daily wage for her actual absence for the period which spans across her delivery, i.e., the time before her delivery, delivery date and after delivery. It is regulated under the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 and the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948.
To incorporate certain new changes, the central government introduced the Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill, 2016 before the Rajya Sabha and was passed by both the Houses of Parliament and the Cabinet.
Important Things to Remember
- It applies to plantations, factories, mines;
- The paid leaves have been changed to 26 weeks for both public and private enterprises which employ more than 10 people;
- The 26 weeks rule is for two surviving children;
- For the third child, it would be 12 weeks;
- Companies and establishments which employ more than 50 people will have to provide for crèches for children (women will be allowed 4 visits/day to the crèches);
- Maternity leave of 12 weeks for women who adopt children below the age of three years;
- A woman may be allowed to work from home if her nature of work is of such a nature;
- A women to claim maternity benefit should have worked atleast 80 days in the last 12 months preceding the date of her expected delivery;
- In case of woman’s death, the employer is still liable to pay her full maternity leave;
- Women working in the unorganized sector are not covered under this Act;
- It is the liability of the employer to finance all the maternity leaves.
Other Maternity Benefit Provisions
- Under All India Services (Leave) Rules, the maternity benefit is of 24 weeks for all mothers including adopting mothers (for less than two surviving children);
- Under Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, the maternity benefit is of 180 days (for less than two surviving children) and for adopting mothers it is of 60 days.
Statutory Law References (Indian Kanoon)
Maternity Benefits Act, 1961
Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948
All India Services (Leave) Rules, 1955
Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 1972
Mrs. Neera Mathur v. Life Insurance Corporation of India 1992 AIR 392
Ram Bahadur Thakur (P) Ltd. v Chief Inspector of Plantations 1982 (2) LLJ 20
Shamima Farooqui v. Shahid Khan Criminal Appeal Nos. 564-565 Of 2015