Maternity leave is the type of leave where the lady is entitled to a certain period of leave either sometime before giving birth or after giving birth. The maternity leave usually is of 12 weeks or more. How much maternity leave you get depends on the government rules of the country that you are staying in and also according to the HR rules of the organization that you are working with. Today we will be talking about maternity leave in India. In India, the maternity benefit act was passed in the year 1961. Some changes were made to this act and the maternity leave bill was passed in the year 2017. This bill became effective from the date 1st April 2017. And the provision of creche facility was effective from the date of 1st July 2017.
Maternity leave benefit act 1961
According to the maternity benefit act in 1961 the pregnant
women are entitled to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave. The payment during the maternity leave should be equal to her average daily wage of the women employee for the period of 12 weeks. The maternity benefit act 1961 protects the women’s employment during her recovery and bonding period with her baby. The period given over here is the maximum of 12 weeks.
It also states that about 10 weeks before the due date the woman should not be given any hard or tedious job. The women should not be standing for a long period of time.
The policy of maternity leave varies from employer to employer. The women employee should check regarding this with the Human Resources department of the firms that she is working with. The basic rule for the employee to be entitled to maternity leave is that she should have at least worked for 80 days for the employer in the past one year. The pdf format for the act is as follows
Maternity leave amendment bill 2017
On 9th March 2017, the Lok Sabha passed the maternity leave amendment bill. According to this bill, women working in any private or public sector will be entitled to the maternity leave of 26 weeks. This bill was approved by the president of India on 29th March 2017.
The union cabinet and the Rajya Sabha headed by the current Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi approved the amendments to the Maternity leave bill in August 2016. According to these amendments, all women working in an organized sector will be eligible for double maternity leave period that is the maternity leave will get extended from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. Here are some of the benefits that women will get due to these amendments
- A mother will get 26 weeks of paid maternity leave.
- This act is applicable to all organizations who have 10 or more employees.
- Women who adopt a baby below three months of age or has a child through surrogacy get 12 weeks of maternity leave.
- The women who are already on maternity leave and have completed a certain period of their maternity leave will also get the extended maternity leave of 26 weeks.
- The maternity leave of 26 weeks is allowed for the first two children and for the third child it is 12 weeks
- This act is applicable for both private and public sectors
- After 26 weeks, a nursing mother should be given the opportunity to work from home depending on the rules and regulations of the organization
- Any organization having 50 or more employees should have the facility of a creche.
- The mother should be allowed to make four visits to the creche.
- Women employee on probation can also get maternity leave
You can read the act in detail over here
How are 26 weeks calculated for the maternity leave?
The main rule for the calculation of the 26 weeks of maternity leave is that the pregnant women can take a maximum of 8 weeks before the due date and 18 weeks after the due date. It is up to the women how she wants to take her maternity leave. She can also take the entire 26 weeks after the due date. If a woman dies during the 8 week period before the due date then she is entitled to the maternity benefit only till that date. If a woman dies during or after giving birth leaving behind the child, then the employer has to give the entire benefit of the maternity leave. But, if the child also dies then maternity benefit will be available only till the date of the death of the child.
What are the other instances that women can take maternity leave?
Women are entitled to maternity leave also during adoption and surrogate childbirth. In both the cases, the mother will need to bond with the child. Certain maternity benefits are given to the woman during miscarriage and many other medical issues during and after pregnancy
During miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy, women are entitled to around six weeks of maternity leave from the day of miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy.
If a tubectomy operation is performed, then a woman is entitled to two weeks of maternity leave following the day of tubectomy operation. Also, if the women are suffering from any health issues due to childbirth then she is entitled to increased maternity leave. Proper medical proof has to be submitted for the above cases
Maternity leave for government job employees in India
Woman having government job get six months maternity leave. Initially, it was four and a half months, but, now it is six months after the circular issued in 2008. There are also allowed to take leave up to two years in phases for childcare till the child turns eighteen years of age. But, now according to the 7th pay commission, only first one year leave is on full pay. The other year leave will be at 80% pay.
Other alternatives to the maternity benefit act
So, above are the maternity leave benefits that a woman gets while working in schools or corporate sector. But, what about those people who are having a low-income job or are not working in higher bodies and firms. Well, there are other options. This option is the Employees state insurance scheme. This is a self-financed health insurance scheme for workers. When the employee enrolled under this scheme the women employee has to pay 4.75% of the monthly income and the employer has to pay 1.75% from their side. The employee who can qualify for this should have a monthly income of Rs. 15,000 or less. In order to be eligible for this act, the women should have contributed not less than 70 days in two consecutive years.
Medical bonus during pregnancy and maternity leave
The medical bonus of Rs.1000 will be given to the pregnant lady. If the company is not providing for any of the maternity cost and treatment then this bonus can be increased to Rs. 20,000.
In the central government, the medical bonus changes every three years. In 2008 the medical bonus was Rs 2500 which has increased to Rs 3500 in the year 2011.
How to claim your maternity leave?
In order to claim maternity leave in India, a woman has to give a written application with proof. The woman has to write the application to the HR of the company to claim for maternity leave. If a woman has not notified the company in advance, then she can provide the application on the day of her delivery. The woman should mention that she will not work during maternity leave. The HR will take time to process the application depending on the policies of the company.
Penalty to the employer for not providing maternity leave in India
It is the government’s rule that the employer cannot relieve or discharge the woman, who is pregnant and who is on maternity leave. The employer will get Rs.5000 penalty for not providing maternity leave. The employer will get Rs. 20000 fine for not providing free medical assistance during pregnancy. The employer may get about 3 months in imprisonment if the employer discharges or dismiss the woman who is pregnant or on maternity leave due to the absence from work.
Here are the rules and regulations that Indian government provides for maternity leave and the benefits under it. All the women should be aware of it.