Maternity leave is an essential for women employees. Pregnancy is taxing both physically and emotionally. At the time of pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes numerous changes. Maternity leave ensures expectant mothers paid leave to give them a break from work. Maternity leave protects the jobs of women. At the time of this leave period, according to maternity leave rules in India, a woman cannot be dismissed from her job during maternity leave. The maternity leave rule in India is reformed from time to time to ensure the requirements of society are adequately satisfied.
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Meaning of Maternity Leave
Maternity leave is when a woman temporarily leaves her job during and after pregnancy. Maternity leave is a paid leave from work provided to women employees to take care of newly born and retain their job.
The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
The act was enforced on 12th December 1961. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, regulates women’s employment in establishments for a specific time before and after the child’s birth. The act also provides maternity leave rules and extends to India.
The act provides women’s right to retain her employment during and after pregnancy. The act also provides maternity leave rules and the conditions to be fulfilled to get the maternity benefit.
The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 was amended in the year 2017. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, was passed to increase the period of paid leave granted. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act of 2017 increased the paid leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks to take care of the child younger than 3 months.
Application of Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
Section 2(1) of the Maternity Benefit Act,1961 or the Maternity Leave Act applies to establishments, including a factory, a mine, a plantation, a shop, or a place in which a person is employed for exhibition, acrobatic and other performances. The act also applies to a government establishment.
The most important condition for eligibility to a paid maternity leave or any other benefit provided by the act is completion of 80 days in the current establishment.
Paid leave of the women on maternity leave is calculated based on the average daily wage. As per the Maternity leave rules, maternity leave was increased from 12 to 26 weeks after the amendment act of 2017.
Norms under the maternity leave rules
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, provides employer’s maternity leave rules to be followed. The rules are as follows:
- According to the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, an employer should not give any difficult task to pregnant women. Accordingly, a pregnant woman should not get a task that includes long working hours 10 weeks before the delivery as this might affect both the mother and the child.
- The employer must ensure the health and safety of women employees. The employer should ensure that the pregnant woman is not given any task 6 months after the delivery and miscarriage.
- According to law, a female employee cannot be dismissed or discharged during maternity leave.
- When the establishment employs more than 50 employees, the employer has to provide a Creche facility so that the female employee can avail the facility when she is back from her maternity leave period. According to maternity leave rules, the female employee can visit the creche four times during regular working hours in a day, including rest intervals.
- If an employer does not adhere to the Maternity Leave Rules provided Maternity Benefit Act, they may face severe repercussions. If an employer does not comply with the act’s provisions, he/she is liable to pay a fine of Rs. 5000/- and can also be punished with 1-year imprisonment or both.
Maternity leave rule for adoptive mothers
According to the law, an adoptive mother has the right to take maternity leave for 12 weeks. This leave period is applicable from the date of adoption. This maternity leave rule of adoption is applicable only when the child is below 3 months.
Employers dilemma with the maternity leave
The Maternity Leave Rules in India have increased the comforts of working women. It also helped women think about their careers and work and have a family. However, employers have the following concerns:
- Maternity leave costs in India to be borne by the employer.
- The employer has to bear the cost other than the maternity leave cost. The employer has to have additional staff in place of the women employee. The training of the temporary employee is an added expense for the employer.
- The employer has to provide a creche facility if the establishment has more than 50 employees. It adds an extra cost to develop infrastructure. Also, trained staff is required to handle the creche. All this additional cost is to be borne by the employer.
The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 empowers the country’s working women and allows them to dedicate time to take care of themselves during her pregnancy. The act provides the maternity leave rules and other general rules to be followed by the employer. The laws and regulations framed under this act have increased the number of working women in India.
Because of the act, women no longer have to choose between their careers and family. Nowadays, women can easily focus on their careers and family planning. The major benefit of this act is paid maternity leave for 26 weeks. According to the act, the woman does not have to fear for her job and can focus on her health. The maternity leave rules are stringent and ensure employers follow them.
FAQs on maternity leave rules in India
What is the eligibility for a woman to be able to benefit from maternity leave?
According to the Maternity Leave Rules, a woman has to work in an establishment for a minimum of 80 days in the last 12 months to benefit from maternity leave.
What is the time for maternity leave to be granted to a woman?
A pregnant woman has the right to get 26 weeks of paid leave as per the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017.
What is the amount of fine that an employer is liable to pay if he does not comply with Maternity Leave Rules?
If an employer does not comply with the Maternity Leave Rules, he is liable to pay a fine of Rs. 5000/-.
For how much time can an adoptive mother receive maternity leave benefits?
An adoptive mother can receive maternity benefits for 12 weeks.