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What is Maternity Benefit Act

Introduction

The Maternity AmendmentBill 2017, is an amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. It was passed in Rajya Sabha on 11 August 2016, in Lok Sabha on 9 March 2017, and received assent from the President of India on 27 March 2017.

How does it help?

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 provides women a Full paid leave to take care of the child in spite of absence from work. This act will be applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more employees.

Who is eligible Under the Maternity act?

Any woman who has been working as an employee in an organization for a period of at least 80 days within the past 12 months. Under the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, this benefit could be availed by women for a period extending up to a maximum of 8 weeks before the expected delivery date and the remaining time can be availed after childbirth. For women who are having 2 or more surviving children, the duration of paid maternity leave shall be 12 weeks -6 weeks before and 6 weeks after the expected date of delivery

In case of miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy, the law permits women six weeks’ leave after the procedure. In case of an illness after delivery, miscarriage, medical termination of pregnancy, or tubectomy, a woman can claim a leave with wages for a further period of one month or whatever is required.

Other benefits

The law also allows employers to permit women employees to work from home in addition to the maternity benefit period depends on the nature of work.

Extended Benefit of Maternity benefit act on Creches

The law was further amended in 2017 to make it mandatory for establishments with more than 50 workers to establish creches. Mothers are entitled to visit the creches up to four times a day and to two nursing breaks per day in addition to any other breaks that are available as a matter of course until the child attains the age of 15 months.

Rules and Norms for Employer

An employer cannot dismiss a woman for taking maternity leave and cannot serve a termination notice to a woman on maternity leave which expires before the maternity leave ends. Also, an employer can’t change the terms of service to the woman’s disadvantage during her maternity leave.

Maternity benefit and medical bonus will have to be paid to a woman who is discharged or dismissed during pregnancy unless it is for gross misconduct.

Applicability

  • Extends to the whole of India.
  • Applicable to mines, factories, plantations, shops, and commercial establishments.
  • For a woman employed, whether directly or through any agency, for wages in any establishment.