New Maternity Benefit Law In India- A Boon to Female Employees!

Motherhood, precisely is one of the most beautiful as well as the most memorable phase of life that a woman can ever experience. Initial months after birth are pure bliss and happiness of seeing your child achieving those little milestones are priceless. In these months the bonding between Mother and child develops, I can say I was inseparable from my Little one during all these month, all thanks to get maternity leaves of 6 months  However, as they say all good things comes to an end and so with a blink of an eye my maternity leaves were coming to an end soon. I started to get anxious and thought of leaving little one at home for whole day started hovering in my mind.  Though my in laws came to stay with us when he turned 5 month old, but he was yet to acquaint with them well and was clingy with me most of time, this made me more worrisome and I decided to seek extension of 3 month for work from home after my maternity leaves got over. My HR being aware of new provisions of Maternity Laws in India approved my request, I could not be happier as this meant 3 more month of stay with my Little one.

Being a person from legal background, I was aware of new amendment in Maternity benefit Act, 1961 (Act)  which came into effect from April 2017 (Yes, just before my little one was born, I was too lucky I guess!) and used the benefit provided in the law. However, while talking with few of my friends who are also on maternity leaves, I realized that most of the people are only aware that maternity leave has been extended from 12 weeks to 26 week, but there are many provisions in law beneficial to female employees which they should be knw of like Work from home, Creche facilities, Maternity leaves for adopting and commissioning mother.

So ladies, here is little insight on new amended law which all female (male as well to support their working wife) should know.

  1. What this Act is about

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017 is a landmark Act which has placed India amongst the league of progressive, developed countries with respect to maternity benefits. With the extended Maternity Leave Benefit period, India now qualifies among the 16 countries having the longest paid leave for new mothers. Maternity leave provided under Maternity Benefit Act aims to provide paid leave to female employees so that they can take care of their child at his/her early age soon after delivery which is very critical and important for well-being of the child and not to forget to provide women opportunity to exclusively breastfeed their child.

2. Duration of Maternity Leaves

The period of maternity leave for which a woman employee is entitled to be actually paid is twenty- six weeks now (upgraded from 12 weeks earlier). The would be profitable to about 1.8 billion women work force in India. Only drawback – this is applicable to the establishments employing ten or more people.

3. Time to Start Maternity Leaves

A pregnant woman employee can utilize Maternity Benefit eight weeks prior to the date of expected delivery.

This is helpful as starting eight month of pregnancy most of the women start feeling difficulty in travelling and thus needs greater rest and precaution. So ladies, You need not wait for delivery to start your maternity leaves and same can availed 8 weeks prior to due date of delivery.

4. Benefits given to  for Biological mother

A biological mother is mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in any other woman”.

If latest modern technology is used, through surrogacy, biological mother can  avail this escalated benefit of maternity leave of twelve weeks from the date child is handed over to biological mother.

5. Benefits for Adopting mother

A woman who legally and going through appropriate procedures along with the completion of various formalities, adopts a child  below the age of 3 months, can avail maternity benefit for a period of twelve weeks from the date the child is handed over to her.

 6. Creche Facility

The Amendment has introduced a crèche clause wherein establishment consisting of fifty or more employees is mandatorily required to provide creche facility to female employees which is a real game changer to promote gender diversity. The woman is also to be allowed four visits a day to the creche, including the regular rest interval.

Childcare is the no 1 enabler that women want from their employers. While some Companies are considering a daycare tie-up and some are investing in onsite set up. This is helpful for parents who don’t leave in joint family set up and thus can’t leave their child with someone at home. The cost of setting up day care goes onto employer which also a booster for working parents as saves their daycare cost.

7. Provision for working from home:

There is enabling provision in new act relating to “work from home” for women, which may be exercised after the expiry of the 26 weeks’ leave period. It is based on the nature of work and mutually agreed by the women employee & the manager. This is advantageous for working parents who wants flexible work timings and enables baby care at home as well!

 Apart from these new provisions, there are few general points one should know:

  1. Maternity leave is a paid leave i.e. the employee on maternity leave gets her salary as she used to get earlier during leave. If your employer denies you this right, please confront them.
  2. Employer cannot discriminate performance appraisal system taking into consideration the fact that the female employee was on maternity leave for 6 months.
  3. Employer cannot terminate an employee who is about to take maternity leave on the ground of her being absent during her leave period.

Most corporate are taking the amendments positively, as these liberating policy changes will help in achieving a gender balanced workforce. Working parents constitutes increasing portion of the working population and enabling provisions likes crèche facility, work from home support will not only help the women on maternity but also today’s working parents. Act also mandates the company to lead the communication around maternity benefit to female employee. So, if we you are expecting or planning to conceive or about to deliver a child,  contact your Company HR for more clarity and to know how your company is implementing new provisions.

 Hope this articles clarifies the concept of maternity benefits provided in India. For any queries, please write on