Maternity Benefit Act, 1961

Get the latest information about latest amendments in the Maternity Benefit Act.

Maternity Benefit Act was passed on 12th December 1961. This act was majorly passed by the government to regulate the employed women in factories, organizations, various companies or any establishment that employs 10 or more people. This act states the benefits and leaves provided to the female employees before and after the birth of the child. This act came into force on 1st November 1963. This act applies to all the organizations that are controlled by the government or the private sector organizations which employ people.

This act was again passed in the Lok Sabha on 9 March 2017 and Rajya Sabha on 20 March 2017. According to the new Maternity Benefit Act passed in 2017 the number of maternity leave assigned to working females has increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. This rule is applicable for the first two children born. The new law also states the provision for Work from home and other facilities introduced in the act. After various amendments were made in the Maternity Act, 2017 the employees and the employers came up with several questions which were answered by the Ministry of Labour and Employment. This act applied to all organizations with more than 10 employees across the country.

Major changes to the Maternity Benefit Act

There were major amendments and changes made to the Maternity Benefits Act of 2017. The major changes introduced in the amendment provided more benefits to the working women. Here are the major changes introduced in the amendment:

1. Extension of leave duration

The leave period granted to female employees as maternity leave was extended from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. It applies to those industries that employ 10 or more workers in their organization. Moreover, not more than 8 weeks of these leaves as per leave policy can be availed before the expected time of child delivery. This rule applies to mothers having two children. Those mothers having more than two children are eligible for only 12 weeks of leave out of which not more than 6 weeks of leaves can be availed before the expected delivery time. 

2. Work-from-home policy for females

It is mandatory to provide 26 weeks of maternity leave to female employees but the employer has the right to provide work from home to them after 26 weeks comes to an end. This change was majorly introduced to provide them time to balance their work and personal lives. This rule is not mandatory. It is applicable on the consent of both the employer and the employee.

3. Introduction of medical bonus

There was a major amendment in the Maternity Benefit Act, 2017 with the introduction of medical bonuses of ₹ 2,500 to 3,500 to eligible females.

4. Termination protection policy during the pregnancy period

As per the new amendments made in The Maternity Benefit Act, termination or dismissal of any woman during the pregnancy period is completely illegal and legal action can be taken against the employer. Moreover, in certain circumstances of misconduct, the employer has the authority to take necessary action as per the company’s policy.  

5. Introduction of Surrogacy/ Adoption Leave

Those women who adopt a baby of less than 3 months or use the surrogacy method to have a child are eligible for 12 weeks of maternity leave under the new amendments made in The Maternity Benefit Act, of 2017.

6. Transparency in the inclusion of the Maternity Benefits Act in the company’s handbook

Organizations as well as employers are required to include Maternity Benefit amendments and leave policy in the HR handbook to ensure transparency in the organization. This information can be made available in the form of either electronic or written format.

7. Creche facility

Organizations or corporations which employ 50 or more employees have to provide creche facilities. This service can be either provided in collaboration with an entity or a separate entity. During the working hours, they must be allowed to visit the creche. This provision came into impact on July 1, 2017. 

Need for Maternity Benefits

There were certain reasons to introduce maternity benefits and make necessary changes and amendments with time in the interests of working females. Here are certain key pointers highlighting the need for maternity benefits:

  • The maternity leave period acts as a booster to strengthen family relations and inculcate good values in their children
  • The maternity leave also helps to reduce the risk of complications during the pregnancy and birth of the child
  • This period provides crucial support to the families in financial terms as well as provides them quality time to spend with their children
  • Another reason to provide maternity benefits to females is to adjust them to their new role as working mothers. It also assures that both the mother and the child born are healthy and fit
  • In this hectic world, it is necessary to maintain a healthy standard of living for both spouses. This situation has led to more and more women who are joining the workforce and playing multiple roles
  • Maternity protection also provides certain economic benefits to women. It helps to ensure that women have a stake in the economic growth of the country. Overall it contributes to the reduced poverty in the country.

Wrapping up

Female employees should consider whether they should continue working or leave their jobs during pregnancy based on various crucial factors. In this picture, the Maternity Benefit Act 2017 came into the limelight for the women who chose to continue working to assist them legally regarding maternity benefits. The extension of maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks has provided great relief to pregnant females. The flexible maternity leave system of India has pushed it into the top ten countries of the world. We can conclude that the Maternity Benefit Act, of 2017 proved to be a boon for working females and the amendments made in the act have brought a positive impact on the culture and environment of the country. To have a better understanding of this act, it is always advisable to seek guidance or advice from legal experts.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

 The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 is a legislation that protects the employment of women at the time of her maternity.

Earlier 12 weeks of maternity leave was provided to the female employees but this period was changed to 26 weeks.

As per the details available, women working in any organization for a minimum of 80 days in the last year are eligible to get the Maternity Benefit.

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