Maternity Rights at Work

Maternity Benefits in India: The Maternity Benefits Act applies to every establishment in India. The maximum period for which any woman shall be entitled to maternity benefit shall be 12 weeks of which not more than 6 weeks shall precede the date of her expected delivery.

What is the law relating to maternity benefits in India?

The maternity leave and benefits are provided to protect the dignity of motherhood by providing for the full and healthy maintenance of woman and her child when she is not working. As the number of women employees is growing, maternity leave and other maternity benefits are becoming increasingly common. In 1961, the Maternity Benefit Act was passed aiming at a uniform maternity benefit all over the country. By an amendment No. 29 of 1995 effective from 1-2-1996 a female employee will be eligible for leave with wages for 6 weeks in case of miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy or production of such proof.

What is the applicability of the law relating to maternity?

The Maternity Benefit Act applies to every establishment being a factory, mine or plantation including any such establishment belonging to Government and to every shop or establishment wherein persons are employed within the meaning of any law for the time being in force in relation to shops and establishments in a State, in which ten or more persons are employed, or were employed on any day of the preceding 12 months.

What are the health and safety measures during course of employment that should be taken by employer for women during certain period?

  • No employer shall knowingly employ a woman in an establishment during the six weeks immediately following the day of her delivery or her miscarriage.
  • No woman shall work in any establishment during the six weeks immediately following the day of her delivery or her miscarriage.
  • Without prejudice to the provisions of section 6, no pregnant woman shall, on a request being made by her in this behalf, be required by her employer to do during the period specified in section below and work which is of an arduous nature or which involves long hours of standing or which in any way is likely to interfere with her pregnancy or the normal development of the foetus or is likely to cause her miscarriage or otherwise to adversely affect her health.
  • The period referred to in above clause shall be
    • The period of one month immediately preceding the period of six weeks, before the date of her expected delivery;
    • Any period during the said period of six weeks for which the pregnant women does not avail of leave of absence.

What is the entitlement of payment as a maternity benefit?

  • No women shall be entitled to maternity benefit unless she has actually worked in an establishment of the employer from whom she claims maternity benefit, for a period of not less than 80 days in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of her expected delivery.
  • The maximum period for which any woman shall be entitled to maternity benefit shall be 12 weeks of which not more than 6 weeks shall precede the date of her expected delivery. In case of death of a woman during this period, the maternity benefit will be payable only up to the day of her death.

How can a woman employee claim for its maternity benefit?

Woman who is employed in an establishment and entitled to maternity benefit under the provisions of this Act will have to give notice in writing to her employer stating her claims for maternity benefit and the amount to which she may be entitled under the Act may be paid to her or her nominee. The pregnant woman will have to state date from which she will be absent from work, which will not be a date earlier than six weeks from the date of her expected delivery. If a woman has not given the notice while she was pregnant she may give such notice as soon as possible after the delivery. On receipt of the notice the employer shall permit such woman to be absent from work during the period for which she receives maternity benefit.

What are provisions relating to payment of maternity benefit in case of death of a woman?

In case a woman who is entitled for maternity benefit or any other amount under this
Act dies before receiving such benefit. Employer shall be liable to pay such benefit to person nominated by her, or her legal representative.

Provisions as per law for leave for miscarriage, medical termination of pregnancy or tubectomy operation?

In case of a woman who has undergone a miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy is entitle for leave with wages for a period of six weeks immediately from the date of such miscarriage, medical termination of pregnancy on production of such proof. In case of tubectomy operation, a woman is entitled for leave with wages for a period of two weeks from the date of her operation.

What is the provision relating to prohibition for dismissal for woman employee during absence due to pregnancy?

A woman who is absent from work in accordance to the provisions of Maternity Benefit Act, it is unlawful of her employer to discharge or dismiss her during that period of absence. Or a notice of discharge or dismiss is issued to her on such a day that the notice will cause disadvantage to her in conditions of service is unlawful.

Woman can be dismissal or discharged from her service in case if the dismissal is caused for any prescribed gross misconduct. For which employer may inform her by order in writing that she will be deprived from the maternity benefit of medical bonus or both. However, woman to whom such notice is communicated within sixty days from the day of such order communicated to her can make an appeal to such authority as may be prescribed. Decision of that authority on such appeal will be final.

What are the provisions for punishment or penalty for employer who contravenes these laws?

If any employer fails to pay any amount of maternity benefit to a woman entitled under this Act or discharges or dismisses such woman during or on account of her absence from work in accordance with the provisions of this Act, shall be punishable with imprisonment which extend to 1 year or with fine which may extend to Rs. 5000 or with both.

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