Maternity Leave In India - Know Your Rights
Does the thought of putting your career on the back burner trouble you even when you are grappling with baby queries? More than 48% of working women under 30 years of age choose to stop working on account of motherhood. With women becoming leading contributors in the workforce, organisations and the government are taking extra care to ensure that the maternity leave policy in India is formulated so that female employees are amply supported during pregnancy and after childbirth.
Babychakra cares for all working mothers and believes it will be a good idea to share with mums - what the policy makers have secured for them.
What the Act Says – The Maternity Benefits Act
The overarching guidelines that apply to women in the workforce, parallel planning motherhood is The 1961 Maternity Act and applies to every organization which has 10 or more employees on any given day during the preceding year. To receive the benefits listed in this act, the employee must have worked in the establishment for at least 80 days (nearly 1 and ½ months) in the year preceding the date of delivery.
A. Leave entitlement
1. The maternity leave policy in India in 2015 entitles the mother to a maximum of 12 weeks full paid leave with six of these weeks to be taken after the birth of the child.
2. Maternity leave application starts from the date from which she is absent from work, which should not be earlier than six weeks from the date of expected delivery.
3. Even in the case of an unfortunate incident, such as a miscarriage, the mother could avail upto six weeks of paid leave after the miscarriage.
4. We were happy to learn that the mother can avail an additional month of leave to cope with any illness related to pregnancy or miscarriage, delivery or premature (preemies) delivery of the baby.
B. Financial entitlement
The amount of maternity benefits that a pregnant woman or a mother receives are also clearly laid down.
1. The woman has the right to be paid during the maternity leave.
2. The payment of maternity benefit is paid to her in advance on showing proofs such as medical reports. The balance is paid after the delivery, typically within 48 hours after the birth of the child.
3. An additional medical bonus of Rs.3,500 is also applicable.
4. God forbid! If a disaster strikes claiming the life of the mother during childbirth, or at any time before the maternity benefits were paid to her, the same should be paid to her nominee or legal representative, as declared by her.
2. A new mother returning to work after delivery is allowed an interval for rest, as well as two breaks every day for nursing her baby until the child is fifteen months old.
D. Legal Recourse
The employer is not legally entitled to dismiss the woman for any reason related to her pregnancy. If she is asked to resign, she could fight it out legally using the industrial and labour court, under the maternity act. In a real case scenario, between Indrani Chakraverty vs. Idiom Consulting Ltd., the Delhi high court ordered the employer to pay Rs.7.5 lakhs as settlement in the case of an unfair dismissal.
The repercussions on the employer may include,
1. Imprisonment of up to one year and fine for failure to pay maternity benefits or if any employer contravenes the articles of this act
2. Monetary compensation to the mother under the Maternity Benefits Act in case of an unfair dismissal.
The Latest News
The latest news shows much progress as Union Women and Child Development Minister Menaka Gandhi is fighting for the cause and has proposed an extension of the maternity leave to a total of 8 months, instead of the long-considered 6 months. She has started an official discussion with the Union Labour Minister about the changes she anticipates and the Prime Minister has also kept a close watch on the matter, showing interest. This leave duration takes into consideration the full nurturing period for new-borns as well as the one month before delivery. Besides, the Labour Ministry has proposed double bonus payments and to introduce the concept of portable gratuity.
Organisations in India are working towards ensuring that young mothers can return to work to fulfil their professional dreams without compromising the well-being of their babies. So go ahead and enjoy your pregnancy, knowing fully that your employment rights are well-protected.
Maternity act of 1961