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Maternity Leave in India 2023 - the Rules and Your Rights

There is nothing more satisfying, beautiful, and nurturing than motherhood.


But, for women who are pregnant and also have a professional career, there are loads of challenges - big challenges, small challenges, and day-to-day challenges.


Most working women equally shoulder financial responsibility with their partners. Or in some cases, they may be the only breadwinners of a family. And most of the time women also have other primary responsibilities at home. Many women feel stressed to juggle work, home, and the baby, which is quite obvious.

Therefore, it really makes sense to plan things as much as possible.



Now, everything may not go as planned, but if you learn and prepare about things that are completely new to you, then you will be in a position to take the right approach if you face any difficult situation later on.


What is Maternity Leave?

  • Maternity Leave in India is an initiative by the Indian government for expecting women.

  • It allows women to care for the newborn baby while temporarily ceasing to work for the organization.

  • This is a 'fully paid leave' accessible to a working woman.

  • There are different categories of maternity leave and entitlements from the employer accessible to women in the commercial and public sectors.

The amendment in 2017 significantly alters India's previous Maternity Act 1961 and applies to enterprises, any establishment, and factories with ten or more employees, whether organized or unorganized. It also increased the period of maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.


Basically, maternity leave is a paid leave policy that is based on a set of criteria that women employees must meet in order to be considered valid.



Maternity Leave Rules

Various rules are incorporated into the legal structure of a business, providing benefits to its employees. One of these perks is the Maternity Benefit Act, of 2017.

It protects the interests of working women who would like to start a family while balancing their careers and personal lives.



Maternity Benefit Act 1961

The Maternity Act was first established in the year 1961, known as Maternity Benefit Act 1961. However, in the year 2017, the Maternity Benefit Act 1961 was amended after which a number of other benefits were added.


Below are the points which are currently valid from the Maternity Benefit Act 1961 after the application of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017 :

  1. No woman is allowed to work during the six weeks immediately following the day of the delivery or of her miscarriage.

  2. An employer cannot force a pregnant woman to do any work that is arduous in 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 fetus, or is likely to cause her miscarriage or otherwise to adversely affect her health. (especially within 10 weeks before her due date)

  3. Every woman is entitled to and the employer is liable for the payment of maternity benefits at the rate of her average daily wage for a period of a total of 26 weeks (including 8 weeks leave before delivery, if any)

  4. If a woman has two or more children, then, the woman is entitled to and the employer is liable for the payment of maternity benefits at the rate of her average daily wage for a period of a total of 12 weeks (including 6 weeks leave before delivery, if any)

  5. A woman employee can be entitled to Maternity Benefits from the employer only if she has worked with that employer for at least 80 days in the 12 months before her due date. (except for a woman who has immigrated to the State of Assam and was pregnant at the time of the immigration.)

  6. Every woman is also entitled to receive from her employer a medical bonus.

  7. In case of miscarriage, a woman will be entitled to maternity benefits for a period of six weeks immediately following the day of her miscarriage.

  8. A woman suffering illness arising out of pregnancy, delivery, or premature birth of the child, is entitled to an additional one month of benefit.

  9. When a woman is on Maternity Leave, it is unlawful for her employer to discharge or dismiss her, or to vary to her disadvantage any of the conditions of her service.

  10. If a woman works in any other establishment during her Maternity Leave, then she will forfeit her claim to the maternity benefit for that period.

  11. If a woman negotiates a more favorable agreement for herself with her employer, which is giving her more privileges then she can definitely go ahead with it. Nothing contained in Maternity Act will be against her.

  12. The employer is supposed to exhibit the details and benefits of the Maternity Act in a prominent place at the office.

  13. If any employer contravenes the provisions of this Act or the rules made thereunder he shall be punishable with imprisonment and a fine.

  14. Any woman deprived of maternity benefit or medical bonus or both may, within sixty days from the date on which the order of such deprivation is communicated to her, make an appeal to the relevant authority.




Maternity Benefit Act - 2017 Amendment: More Benefits


Adoptive Mothers and Commissioning Mothers

A woman who legally adopts a child below the age of 3 months or a commissioning mother (a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo that is implanted in any other woman), shall be entitled to maternity benefits for a period of 12 weeks from the date the child is handed over.


Work from Home

In the case where the nature of work assigned to the woman is such that she may work from home, the employer may allow her to do so after availing of the maternity benefit for such period and on such conditions as the employer and the woman may mutually agree.


Creche Facility

Every company having 50 or more employees shall have the facility of creche within the prescribed distance either separately or along with other common facilities.

The employer shall allow 4 visits a day to the creche by the woman, which shall also include the interval of rest allowed to her.


Breastfeeding or Nursing

Every woman who returns to work after the delivery of her child after her Maternity Leave, in addition to the interval for rest allowed to her, be allowed in the course of her daily work 4 breaks of the prescribed duration for nursing the child until the child attains the age of fifteen months.


Information about the Benefits of the Maternity Act

Every company should intimate in writing and electronically to every woman at the time of her initial appointment regarding every benefit available to her as per the Act.



Eligibility for Maternity Leave in India

The maternity leave act applies to the following women:

  1. A woman employee who has worked for at least 80 days in the 12 months before her due date. (except for a woman who has immigrated to the State of Assam and was pregnant at the time of the immigration.)

  2. A Pregnant woman is eligible for maternity leave for a period of a total of 26 weeks (including 8 weeks leave before delivery, if any)

  3. A woman who legally adopts a child below the age of 3 months or a commissioning mother (the biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo that is implanted in any other woman), shall be entitled to maternity benefits for a period of 12 weeks from the date the child is handed over.

  4. In case of miscarriage, a woman will be entitled to maternity leave for a period of six weeks immediately following the day of her miscarriage.

  5. The Act mandates every woman seeking maternity benefits to give a notice in writing seeking the same, however, it also needs to be noted that the Act also specifies that the failure to give notice under this section shall not disentitle a woman to maternity benefit or any other amount under this Act if she is otherwise entitled to.

Advocate's note on Maternity benefits

Although the statute guarantees maternity benefits to a woman, she might face circumstances wherein her right is deprived. Every woman needs to remember to raise her voice against such deprivation caused to her, which is the paramount requisite for better enforcement of the rights entitled by the Maternity Benefits Act.


Maternity Leave Application

When it comes to writing an official email to inform your Supervisor and HR about your upcoming maternity leave, it is best to keep it simple, without much jargon.

Keep your Hospital Proofs ready, in case they ask for any. (Mostly it is not required.)

Below is a format/sample that may help you.

​Subject: Application for Maternity Leave



Hello <Recepient's Name>,


I intend to take the allotted <Number of Weeks> of Maternity Leave.

I plan to start my leave on <Starting Date> and return to office by <Tentative Joining Date>, barring any unforeseen issues regarding my pregnancy and delivery arise.


If my plans change for any reason, I will let you know as soon as possible.


Please let me know if you need any additional information.


Thank You,

<Your Name>


The Importance of Maternity Leave

  • The primary reason for making maternity benefits available is to help new mothers adjust to their new role, to protect the health of new mothers, and to ensure the well-being of the child.

  • In terms of mental health, a comfortable birth and postnatal period lower the chance of postpartum depression for the mother and anxiety in babies.

  • By taking the necessary days off, women can recover well, and then return to work.

  • It also helps to close the pay difference between the genders.


Conclusion

To-be mothers have a lot of aspects to take care of and have the right to make their pregnancy their biggest priority. So, every woman must be aware of the maternity benefits.

Life is a continuous learning process. There are some things that can be learned only from experience and motherhood is definitely one among them.


But, being prepared for motherhood, especially those initial months after childbirth, can make a huge positive difference in your life.

So, learn about your maternity rights, learn about childbirth, learn about lactation, learn about the right food to eat after childbirth, learn about how to stay fit as a new mom, learn how to be mindful with your little one, learn about how to have loving relationships after a change in your identity.


Although the statute guarantees maternity benefits to a woman, she might face circumstances wherein her right is deprived. Every woman needs to remember to raise her voice against such deprivation caused to her, which is the paramount requisite for better enforcement of the rights entitled by the Maternity Benefits Act.


What you can do in case Maternity rights are deprived?

As per Advocate, Whenever a woman is deprived of any rights assured to her by way of the Maternity Benefits Act, she can issue a legal notice through her advocate bringing the said violation to the notice of the employer. In case of inaction by the employer to the said legal notice, she can approach the court of competent jurisdiction and initiate litigation.




1 comentario


Invitado
10 feb 2023

Very helpful article for expecting moms. Thank you

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