Women employees in India are provided with a special benefit during and after their pregnancy, known as the maternity benefit. This benefit is provided to pregnant and lactating women who are employed in various work institutions. Maternity benefit in India is provided in the form of 'fully paid' leaves to pregnant and lactating women to take care of themselves and their children.
The maternity benefit rules in India are governed by the amended Maternity Benefit Act. 2017, which regulates the duration, conditions, and eligibility for getting maternity benefit in India. The maternity benefit rules are applicable to factories, mines, shops and establishments which employ 10 or more employees.
The maternity benefit laws in India were regulated by the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 previously, which was amended in 2016. The amendments to the Act changed various provisions regarding the duration and applicability of maternity leave in India. The new maternity benefit rules brought the following changes:
Increased duration: The maternity benefit leaves were available to women employees for 12 weeks. This was increased to 26 weeks after the 2017 maternity rules. The benefit can be availed in durations of 8 weeks prior to the expected delivery date and 18 weeks after the delivery.
Changed applicability: Maternity benefit leave in India is now available to adoptive and commissioning mothers as well. Every woman employee who adopts a child is entitled to 12 weeks of maternity benefit in India.
The option of work from home: The new maternity benefit rules of 2017 also provide pregnant and lactating women with the option of working from home once the maternity benefit leave period of 26 weeks expires. The conditions relating to work from home are decided mutually by the woman employee and employer.
Crèche facility by employer: The Maternity Benefit Act, 2017 makes it compulsory for employers that employ more than 50 employees to provide crèche facility in the premises and allow women employees to visit the facility 4 times a day.
Who is eligible to get Maternity Benefit in India?
The Maternity Benefit Act, 2017 lays down the women employees who are eligible to get maternity benefits. The Act states that only the women employees who have worked for at least 80 days in the past 12 months are eligible to get maternity benefits in India.
A woman adopting a child under the age of 3 months is also entitled to maternity benefit leave for a period of 12 months. A commissioning or surrogate mother is also entitled to get maternity benefit to leave for a period of 12 weeks.
A woman who suffers from a miscarriage is entitled to get maternity benefit for 6 weeks after providing a doctor's statement. A woman who suffers from an illness that is caused due to her pregnancy, delivery or premature childbirth is also entitled to maternity benefit for 1 month after providing a doctor's statement.
What to do if Maternity Benefit is denied by the employer?
No employer can deny a woman employee’s maternity benefit. If your employer denies your maternity benefit or has dismissed or discharged you from services, you can take the following measures:
Contact the HR Department: You can take your grievance to the HP department of your company. Usually, the HR representatives are able to clear up any confusion or grievance that arises between the employee and employer. Go through the HR policy of your company once to check the company’s stance on maternity benefit. If no resolution is provided by the HR, you can take the next step!
Send a legal notice to the employer: You can consult an employment and labor lawyer in India and send a legal notice to your employer regarding the denial of your maternity benefit. A legal notice speaks volumes! But, if your employer still does not respond, take them to the court.
Approach the Labour Court: You can hire an employment and labor lawyer in India to file a case against your employer in a Labour Court.
An employer who denies a woman employee’s maternity benefit claim in India can be punished with imprisonment for up to 3 months, fine for up to Rs. 5000, or both. If your employer has dismissed or discharged you from service, he can be punished with imprisonment for 3-12 months.
It is advised to contact experienced employment and labor if your maternity benefit claim is denied by your employer. MyAdvo has curated 3000+ best employment and labor lawyers. Consult the best employment and labor lawyers in your city at MyAdvo. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at +919811782573.