Even in today’s modern working environment being a woman and holding a position of power is not easy, especially if the lady is married. The mentality of the male employees and the competitive nature of the industry cause problems. If a woman gets pregnant on the job things are not always very conducive for her, especially in terms of the facilities provided or the nature of leave granted. Therefore, the Maternity Benefit Act was incorporated so as to protect women from such treatment and ensure social security to them.

The aspiration behind the enactment of the Maternity Benefit Act was to manage the employment of the women in different companies for the period prior and post pregnancy. This Act helps women by accommodating them during their maternity period and providing various benefits so that they can feel secure about their employment.

Applicability of the Maternity Benefit Act

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, applies to:

  • every business whether it is a  factory,  plantation, or mine including establishments that belongs to Government
  • organizations engaged in an exhibition of acrobatic, equestrian, and other performances (the number of workers doesn’t matter)
  • institutions, where 10 or more individuals are hired or were employed on any day of the preceding 12 months

The State Government with the assent of Central Government can declare that provisions of this Act shall also apply to any other establishment or class of establishments, industrial, commercial, agricultural or otherwise.

Remember: The Act does not apply to any factory or another establishment to which the provisions of the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948, apply for the time being.

Benefits provided under the Act

The right to payment of maternity benefits:

  • The employer is inclined to pay the maternity perks i.e. the amount payable to the woman at the rate of the regular day by day wage for the time of her absence.
  • The woman will be eligible to receive maternity benefits only if, she has worked in the establishment for at least 80 days during the 12 months immediately preceding the date of her expected delivery.

Maternity Leave Period:

  • As per the new amendment in the Act (2017), the duration of paid maternity leave is now to be taken as 26 weeks. The woman can avail the benefit eight weeks before the expected delivery date and the remaining 18 weeks post the delivery.
  • But if the woman is expecting a child after having two kids, she’ll only get 12 weeks paid leave i.e. 6 weeks before expected delivery date and six weeks post childbirth.
  • In the case of adoption, the woman is entitled to avail the benefit of paid leave for 12 weeks from the day of adoption.
  • As er the changes introduced now a woman gets a 6 week leave period if she has had a miscarriage – time period to be counted from the day of the miscarriage.

Work from Home:

  • The amendment has provided the provision of Work from Home for women that can be used after leave period of 26 weeks expires.
  • This provision depends on the nature of the work and the mutual agreement with the employer.

Creche Facility:

  • It is mandatory for the organizations with 50 or more employees to provide crèche facility and women shall be permitted to visit it four times during the day.

Employee Awareness:

  • It is compulsory for the employers to educate the women about the maternity benefits that they provide at the time of the appointment.