Ever since the Indian government has passed the new bill pertaining to maternity leave in India, women all over the country have been praising it profusely. This new law benefits more than 1.8 million working females. It gives them a great opportunity to embrace motherhood without giving an affect to their professional career. This bill was passed on 9th March 2017 just one day after the Women’s Day, and it is named as Maternity Benefit Act 2016. The reason behind the name is that it was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 11th August 2016, but the Indian government provided final assent after 8 months in 2017. This new law has been certainly considered as a boon for maternity leave in India.
This article provides every single detail about the new Maternity Benefit Act 2016. You will come to know about eligibility criteria, rules, documents, benefits, and perks available for a working pregnant lady. While many government employees were already enjoying these benefits, these maternity leave rules in private sector have become prevalent soon after its enactment.
Maternity Benefit Act 1961 Vs. Maternity Benefit Act 2016
The Maternity Benefit Act 1961 was passed to regulate the rights of working women in India. It protects the rights, benefits, and facilities for pregnant females. It had many perks like 12 weeks paid leave with many other benefits. The rule had some major amendments in 2017 and has its own positive points assimilated in it. It has increased paid leave duration, creche facility, works from home options, medical benefits etc.
Main Maternity Leave Extension Reason
Our government work for the upliftment of every sector, the main reason behind maternity leave extension is that working females in India should feel some freedom and should welcome motherhood at the right age. They should not feel that having kids will affect their career, aspirations, and future plans. The new maternity leave rules in India gives them the scope of receiving the monthly salary for benefited months.
Important points about Maternity Leave in India
If you are a pregnant working female, you must be searching for a complete guide of Maternity Benefit Act 2016. Before applying for leave, you must be aware of many important points to avail the services. It does not matter if you are working in a private or a government company, you are entitled to a paid maternity leave of 26 weeks. Below are the complete details about maternity leave rules in India:
Eligibility for Maternity Leave in India
- You must have been working as an employee in the organization for at least 80 days in the past 12 months.
- Every company which has more than 10 employees comes under this rule and are supposed to provide maternity benefits to the pregnant working women.
- You can avail the benefits only for the first two children. The usual 12 weeks paid maternity leave is applicable for the third or later child.
- The managers should be informed within 12 to 15 weeks of conception to avail maternity leave benefits.
- You should not be pregnant at the time of joining the services, giving maternity benefits in such cases depends on the decision of the organization.
Maternity Benefit Rules
- An increment in the duration of paid maternity leaves: As per the new Maternity Benefit Act 2016, the pregnant working woman is entitled to 26 weeks paid maternity leave. The lady can avail maternity leave for a period of extending up to a maximum of 8 weeks before the expected delivery date and approximately 18 weeks after the childbirth. However, it completely depends on the choice of the woman and circumstances.
- Work from home option: Under this new rule, a new “work from home option” has been introduced. It enables the woman to work from home after the approximate 26 week’s leave period. But, it is available only after having mutual consent with the employer. If the employer does not agree, you may have to return to work after availing maternity leaves.
- Creche facility: After the enactment of the Maternity Benefit Act 2016, every organization that has more than 50 employees are to provide creche facility within a prescribed distance. The mother will be allowed to visit creche four times a day to look after the child.
- Maternity leave in India for adoptive and commissioning mothers: If you are an adopting mother and the age of the child is less than 3 months, you are entitled to take 12 weeks paid maternity leave. If you are planning to have your baby through surrogacy, the doctor will need to plant your egg into another woman. In this case, you are the commissioning mother and eligible for 12 weeks paid leave.
- Awareness about Maternity Benefits: It is the responsibility of the organization to spread awareness about the maternity benefits. Every female in the organization should be informed through written, electronic or digital mode. There should be a clear transparency around this.
Availing maternity leave during pregnancy is every woman’s right. All you need to do is just inform the employer within the time limit so that he can arrange your replacement for the prescribed time period. It is all verbal communication, however, at the time of finally going on leaves, some documentation work will be needed to proceed ahead. The required documents and certificates depend on the organization you work for. You should have a clear communication with the HR department or your employer for this. Here we are providing a general guidance about the required documents to take maternity leave in India.
- A detailed hard-copy or soft copy of the application which clearly defines the dates that you will be on leave
- Form B* (Medical certificate issued by the authorized designation of Medical officer)
- Detailed certificate about complications pertaining to pregnancy (If your gynecologist has declared some)
Is work from home option available before and after the maternity leave?
“Work from home” option completely depends on the employer of the company. You need to have an open communication if you want to opt for this option before and after the paid leave period. It actually depends on mutual understanding. The law does not emphasize employer to give work from option outside the rule. However, you can have a one-on-one session with them to state your situation and can convince them that your productivity will not be hampered.
Do we have different maternity leave rules in India for private companies?
Many times this question has arisen that do government employees get more benefits as compared to private sector employees. The answer is a big NO. Earlier at the time of the Maternity Bill 1961, there was a huge difference between maternity rules for the government and private employees but after the enactment of the new law, the difference has vanished. Nowadays, private sector working females and government sector working ladies are taking the same benefits pertaining to maternity leave in India.
Criticism from social scientists and media:
While the Maternity Benefit Act 2016 is benefiting more than 1.8 million working females, it has its own limitations as well. Many times the new bill has received flaks from social workers. As per them, there are subtle reasons that make this new law void.
- This law will benefit only those women who are working in organized and established sectors which is a small percentage of the whole community. It does not reserve the rights of unorganized or small sectors like contract laborer, farmers, or institutions which has less than 10 employees.
- The government has imposed paid leave and other perks on the employer but it does not provide financial assistance or share some budget with them. It has become the sole responsibility of the employer to bear these expenses.
- Private firms may avoid hiring females at the work. The more numbers of the females in the organizations, the more paid leaves they will have to provide which somewhere affects their productivity. It may result in fewer job options for women.
- As per the views of various social comments, the new law promotes patriarchy. Along with this new rule, some new laws for paternity leave have not been enacted and the whole responsibility of the child comes on the shoulders of females.
Even after such criticism from few activitists, the new law has been praised not only in India but throughout the world. The Indian women are getting more benefits than Japanese and French females. Now, we can say that Indian women are becoming more independent and career oriented while performing their duties as usual. Pregnancy will not be a hurdle or obstacle in the path of working females. If you enjoyed the article, please share it with someone who is looking for clear details on what, how and why of maternity leave in India.
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