Maternity Leave in India: The Law, Importance and Benefits

August 3, 2021

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maternity leave in india

Women of today are excelling in all fields, taking over men and becoming primary breadwinners of a family. In spite of excelling greatly in their respective careers, women are seen as shouldering the responsibility of doing all the household work and taking care of children. However, the situation becomes stressful mainly at the time of pregnancy as with a child to handle, managing professional work does take a setback. In the past, there have been cases where women have been fired from work owing to pregnancy. However, with changing times, things have changed and today women are entitled to take a paid maternity leave for up to 26 weeks. Read on to know all about maternity leave in India. 

What is maternity leave in India? 

Maternity leave in India is a paid leave that pregnant working women are entitled to take care of their newborn. This type of leave makes the woman eligible to receive her monthly salary, and retain her job while taking care of the child at home. Maternity leave in India is provided as per the provisions of the Maternity Benefit Act 1961. 

What is the Maternity Benefit Act 1961? 

The Maternity Act was first established in the year 1961, known as Maternity Benefit Act 1961, ensuring that women employees can take paid leave up to 12 weeks post the delivery of the newborn. However, in the year 2016, the Maternity Act was amended after which the number of paid leaves was increased to 26 weeks.  

The new law has brought about the below reforms 

  • Increasing the duration of paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks 
  • The law is eligible for those working in the organisation for at least 80 days 
  • Prenatal leaves have also been increased from 6 weeks to 8 weeks 
  • Women who are already having 2 kids are eligible to get 12 weeks of maternity leave 
  • In case of adoption of a child under the age of 3 months, women employees can take leave up to 12 weeks 

The law is eligible for contractual or permanent employees working in an organisation with 10+ employees. 

Maternity Leave Applies to 

Eligibility 

Only those women are eligible to get maternity leave who have been employed in the organisation for 80 working days 

Payment 

Paid leave is calculated based on the average daily wages for the period of absence 

Extension of period 

Maternity leave can be taken pre and post-pregnancy. Women can take pre-natal leave of 8 weeks before the expected delivery date 

Adoptive mothers 

Mothers who have adopted a child are eligible for maternity to leave up to 12 weeks 

Commissioning mothers 

This refers to mothers who donate their eggs to create an embryo and implant it in another woman is eligible to receive leave up to 12 weeks 

 Illness post pregnancy 

1 month of leave is granted to women suffering from critical illness post pregnancy 

Tubectomy cases 

2 weeks’ leave is granted to women who have undergone a tubectomy operation 

 The 2017 amendment to Maternity Act has also brought about the below provisions 

Work from home option 

Women in consultation with their employer can also choose to work from home for a certain period of time after the completion of 26 weeks of maternity leave. However, this has to be mutually agreed upon between the employer and the employee. 

Creche facility: The amendment makes it necessary for the organisation to establish a creche facility if employing more than 50 employees. Women employees should be permitted to visit the creche at least 4 times a day. 

Employee awareness: It is important that the employees are aware that they cannot be terminated on the first day of the maternity leave as it would be deemed illegal and would account for termination due to pregnancy.  

Norms under the Maternity Act 

As per the Maternity Act, pregnant women should not be assigned difficult tasks which are physically challenging in nature 

 A pregnant woman should not be involved in any work 6 weeks following the delivery or miscarriage 

 An employer cannot dismiss an employee during the maternity leave period 

 An employer is charged a fine of Rs. 5000/- or imprisonment which is up to a year or both if they do not follow the guidelines and norms of the act. 

Maternity Act 2017 compensation rules and benefits 
  • The maternity leave payment shall be done based on the average daily wage for the period of absence 
  • The medical bonus of Rs. 3500 in addition to 26 weeks of paid leave should be given 
  • Pregnant women and lactating mothers are eligible to receive compensation of Rs. 6000/- under the National Food Security Act 2013. 
 
The Bottom Line 

Regardless of the role that a woman plays in her life, from a homemaker to a job person, she has all the rights to make her phase of pregnancy a high priority before anything else. That’s why it is important for every woman and her family to be aware of such maternity benefits.  

Also for an employer, apart from giving mandatory maternity benefits from the organisation itself, here’s an affordable and wonderful effort you can make for your female employees who are to-be mothers, to make their pregnancy even more beautiful and safe which can even help boost their morale and productivity. 

That is, providing Onsurity’s healthcare plan

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