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Sainy Banerjee Pal
27 Mar 2018 . 1 min read

Maternity Leave in India: Laws Every Women Should Know


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The story of every professional woman, when she gets a positive pregnancy test report:

One Thursday evening, my friend called me. She was flustered and insisted me to visit her at once.

I was worried and confused so I rushed to her place immediately. I was even more surprised to find her crying as she opened the door and hugged me. I asked her anxiously, “What happened? Why are you crying? What is bothering you?”

She gave me her pregnancy reports, which indicated she was pregnant.

I was overwhelmed! I hugged her again in joy and congratulated her. She and her husband were trying for a baby for the past 5 years! And this day is finally here.

But I was still curious to know why she was crying. So I asked and learned that she has to go onsite to the UK office after 6 months for a period of 2 months - which would almost be at the time of delivery.

"I want the assignment same as I want the baby. Why God has given me both at the same time", she said.

It was a huge assignment and certainly would be a milestone in her career. I knew that she has always worked hard to get this project. All the years of hard work and constant aspiration would go in vain if she couldn't make it to the client's end to show her contributions.

We started to ponder, to find a way so that she can have a baby that she wanted and not lose the job or the assignment and thanks to the current trend in the professional world, a good number of people and laws came to our support.

But,

Does becoming pregnant hamper a woman’s professional growth?

Can becoming a mother and growing professionally, go hand in hand?

Does the government or the organization value the female employee as much as they value the male employees?

There are so many questions that often haunt a professional woman, especially if she is working in a country like India.

A woman will certainly be pregnant at one point in time (if she chooses to), but that is not going to change her competency or her professional capabilities. She will remain to be as good as any other employee. In fact, being pregnant may add strength in her. She can emerge as a strong woman.

Carlos Ghosn, Chairman of the Renault-Nissan Alliance once said,

Hiring and Promoting a woman is the right thing to do for society and its economic imperative.

Thankfully the government, as well as many organizations in India and worldwide, have sensed the depth of the issue and have come up with the Maternity Benefit Act.

So, to help all our professional women, who are either expecting a baby or planning for one, here a detailed guide on  maternity leave in India:

Maternity Leave in India

The Maternity Benefit Act 2017 (Amendment) was framed to ease the dilemma of the working-cum-expecting mothers. In August 2016, it was passed by the Rajya Sabha and has also been passed by the Lok Sabha in March 2017. But guess what? The new law is with additional benefits.

Initially, the maternity leave in India was for 12 weeks i.e 3 months. But after March 2017, the Maternity Benefit Act (Amendment) increased the maternity leave to 26 weeks i.e more than 6 months for women working in companies with at least 10 employees.  However, a woman who already has two or more children is entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave. 

With the new amendment, according to the TOI, India has qualified among the 16 countries having the longest paid leave for new mothers. There are several other additional as well as important information, that every female employee, irrespective of her pregnancy status, must be aware of.

Have a look to know more:

Paid Leaves for Pregnant Women in India

  1. The Act is applicable to all establishments which are factories, mines, plantations, Government establishments, shops and establishments under the relevantly applicable legislation, or any other establishment as may be notified by the Central Government. Case law Lokesh vs union of India Lokesh and Resha have got twin baby and filed a case on union (source: Wikipedia).
  2. For mothers with more than two children, the maternity benefits will only cover about 12 weeks.
  3. This Act is applicable to all organizations that employ 10 or more persons.
  4. This is available for women working both in the private sector and public sector.
  5. The Act provides an adoption leave of 12 weeks for a woman who adopts a child under the age of 3 months.
  6. A commissioning mother (biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in any other woman) is also entitled to a 12-week leave from the date the child is handed over to her.
  7. The act also introduced an enabling provision relating to "work from home" for women, which may be exercised after the expiry of the 26 weeks' leave period. Depending upon the nature of work, women employees may be able to avail this benefit on terms that are mutually agreed with the employer.
  8. The MB Amendment Act makes crèche facility mandatory for every establishment employing 50 or more employees. Women employees would be permitted to visit the crèche 4 times during the day.
  9. The Act further requires an employer to inform a female employee of her rights under the Act at the time of her appointment. The information must be given in writing and in electronic form (email).
  10. How she takes those 26 weeks depends on her. She can take all her maternity leave after the birth of her child. She can start her maternity leave anytime in 8 weeks before her due date. A woman cannot consume more than 8 weeks of the maternity leave preceding the date of her expected delivery.
  11. In case of miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy, a woman shall, on production of such proof as may be prescribed, is entitled to leave with wages at the rate of maternity benefit, for a period of six weeks immediately following the day of her miscarriage or, as the case may be, her medical termination of pregnancy.
  12. In case of tubectomy operation, a woman, on the production of such proof as may be prescribed, is entitled to leave with wages at the rate of maternity benefit for a period of two weeks immediately following the day of her tubectomy operation.
  13. A woman suffering from illness arising out of pregnancy, delivery, premature birth of a child (miscarriage, medical termination of pregnancy or tubectomy operation) be entitled, in addition to the period of absence allowed to her leave with wages at the rate of maternity benefit for a maximum period of one month.
  14. While the female civil servants are entitled to maternity leave for a period of 180 days for their first two live-born children, the women working in private sector are advised to get in touch with the respective HR partners, as the Maternity Leave Rules may vary from company to company.

Payment Rules During Maternity Leave in India: 

  1. The maternity leave with full pay is granted on completion of at least 80 days in an establishment in the 12 months prior to her expected date of delivery.
  2. The maternity benefit is awarded at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of a worker's actual absence from work.
  3. Apart from 12 weeks of salary, a female worker is entitled to a medical bonus of 3,500 Indian rupees.
  4. Under the National Food Security Act 2013, pregnant women and lactating mothers are entitled to receive maternity benefit of at least Rs. 6,000.
  5. The Act further requires that subject to such schemes, as may be framed by the Central Government, every pregnant woman and lactating mother will be entitled to free meals during pregnancy and six months after the childbirth, through the local Anganwadi, so as to meet their nutritional needs.

Free medical care in India for women on maternity leave:

  1. A pregnant woman worker is entitled to a maternity benefit (in the form of a medical bonus) of 1000 rupees if no pre-natal confinement and post-natal care are provided by the employer free of charge.
  2. It can be increased to a maximum limit of 20,000 rupees. The Central Government is authorized to increase the basic amount every three years.
  3. In August 2008, the amount of medical bonus was 2500 Indian rupees which have been later raised in 2011 to 3500 Indian rupees.

Increase in maternity Leave

The above image gives a better idea of the major changes to the Maternity Benefit Act.

With all the added benefits in the Maternity leave Act, a very positive impact is seen on the female employees. It has just not helped in the social but also in the economic advancement for the working women in India’s job market.

Like my friend got onsite, bagged the project into her kitty, while she also enjoyed being pregnant, you can also go on your maternity leave. My friend worked from home with her current employer when she was unable to travel. Later, her organization helped her to pick up with the work and welcomed her as an employee after her maternity leave.

Government is making rules to help women so that they do not lose their job because they are pregnant. Do keep yourself well informed about the benefits that the government and your organization have reserved for you. As you, being a working mother are much valued than you think!

(Something you should remember from this Article - The 6 Months Maternity Leave in India is Effective From March 2017)

Did I miss anything? Just let me know in the comment.


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Sainy Banerjee Pal
An engineer by profession but an ardent writer by heart, Sainy has been writing from the age of 12. She has a huge collection of her handwritten diaries. Her friends call her a therapist for broken hearts and can connect instantly with anyone. She lives with her doting husband who is also her critic for her write ups. Imaginative, spirited and filled with compassion, she always has a lot to say, to those who care to listen.

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Responses

  • V*****
    hi ! your post helped us to understand very well about The Maternity Benefit Act 2017 (Amendment). appreciated .. I've a doubt regarding payment rules. as you mentioned above " Payment Rules During Maternity Leave in India: 1. The maternity leave with full pay is granted on completion of at least 80 days in an establishment in the 12 months prior to her expected date of delivery. 2.The maternity benefit is awarded at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of a worker's actual absence from work. 3. Apart from 12 weeks of salary, a female worker is entitled to a medical bonus of 3,500 Indian rupees." my doubt is about 3rd one & which confusing me .hope you will answer soon. Does a woman entitled to get 12 weeks of gross salary ..? or 26 weeks of gross salary if she take 26 weeks leave.! ? or the days of actual absence from work...? Best Regards.
  • S*****
    I went on maternity leave from April and my company gives hikes from June. But my company hadn't given me any hike during my leave period and had given my usual salary. Do I have the right by law to ask them for my hike during the months of my leave from when others got their hike?
  • N*****
    is she eligible for performance bonus given by company every year in private sector??
  • S*****
    Hi Sainy, I had a question regarding Maternity Leave in India. I wanted to know if a woman on Maternity Leave will be eligible for Earned Leave and Sick Leaves for that period of 6 months? I checked with someone regarding this and they said that the employee should not be credited with ELs and SLs since they are already on paid leaves (Maternity Leave). Wanted to be sure about this. Can you help?