Did you know women who legally adopt a child under three months of age are entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave from the date of adoption under the law?
Thousands of women across India juggle between motherhood and their role as working professionals. Working in high-stress environments, many times, these are the same women who are unaware of the legal rights that protect and safeguard them.
The Maternity Benefit Act passed in 1961, protects the right to employment of these women during the time of their maternity and entitles them a ‘maternity benefit.’ To be eligible for maternity benefit, a woman must have been working as an employee in an establishment for at least 80 days in the past 12 months.
This Maternity benefit is a ‘fully paid’ leave from work that pregnant working women or adoptive mothers are entitled to, to take care of their child. Under the law, this act applies to all establishments employing 10 or more persons including factories, mines, plantations, Government establishments, shops etc. and those notified by the Central Government.
This Law was amended under the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill 2017 and was passed in the Rajya Sabha on August 11, 2016, in the Lok Sabha on March 09, 2017. It received the President’s assent on March 27, 2017, and came into effect from April 01, 2017.
Here are all the laws working mothers should be aware of:
- If you still think the duration of paid maternity leave is only 12 weeks, then you are in for a surprise. According to the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, women are now entitled to a paid maternity of 26 weeks. Women can avail of leave for a period extending up to 8 weeks before their expected due date, while the remaining 18 weeks can be availed post childbirth.
- Women giving birth for the third time are also entitled to a paid maternity leave. This lasts for 12 weeks, of which six weeks can be availed before childbirth, and the other half can be availed after the delivery.
- Women who legally adopt a child under the age of three months are also entitled to a leave of 12 weeks.
- Even commissioning/surrogate mothers are entitled to a 12-week leave from the date the child is handed over to her.
- Mothers also have the option of ‘work from home’, which they can avail after the expiry of the 26 weeks’ leave period. Availing this option also depends upon the nature of work and agreement with their employer.
- The law also makes it mandatory for every establishment with 50 or more employees to provide crèche facilities within a prescribed distance. The mother is allowed four visits to the creche a day including her interval for rest.
- Every woman who returns to work after delivery in addition to the interval for rest is entitled to two breaks during work hours for a prescribed duration to nurse her child until it is 15 months old.
- If a woman entitled to maternity benefit or any other amount dies under unfortunate circumstances before availing the benefit, the employer has to pay the amount to the nominee and in the absence of a nominee to her legal representative.
- A pregnant women worker is entitled to a maternity medical bonus of one thousand rupees if no pre-natal confinement and postnatal care are provided by the employer free of charge. This can be increased to a maximum limit of twenty thousand rupees. The Central Government is authorized to increase the basic amount every three years.
- In case of miscarriage, a woman is entitled to a maternity benefit, of six weeks immediately following the day of her miscarriage, after providing a proof stating the same. A woman suffering from illness arising out of pregnancy, delivery, premature birth of the child is entitled, to a leave of maximum one month after providing proof of the same.
- The law makes it mandatory for all employers to educate and make all women employees aware of the maternity benefits available to them at the time of their appointment.