Maternity Leave Rules In India: Maternity Benefits For Working Women

Last updated 14 Jan 2021 . 1 min read

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Can maternity leaves be taken after delivery in India? Is maternity leave paid in India? Learn all about the maternity act and maternity leave rules in India.

Here’s the story of every professional woman, when she gets a positive pregnancy test report:

On 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 the 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.


  • 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 haunt a professional woman, especially if she is working in a country like India such as:

  • Is maternity leave mandatory in 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 that,

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.

What Is Maternity Leave?

Maternity Leave allows a mother-to-be to take paid leave in the workplace so she can take care of her new baby during the initial months. 

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

Maternity Leave Rules In India

In 2017, the Maternity Benefit Act 2017 (Amendment)  increased the duration of paid maternity leave for working women in India from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, making it the third-highest in the world.

Previously, according to the Maternity Benefit Act 1961, maternity leave in India was for 12 weeks or 3 months. So, the new law provides additional benefits for working moms. 

However, this only applies to those who work in a company with at least 10 employees and to be eligible for maternity benefits, a woman must have been working as an employee in an establishment for a period of at least 80 days within the past 12 months. 

Payment during the leave period is based on the average daily wage for the period of actual absence, and a woman who already has two or more children is entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave.

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).

With the new amendment, India has qualified among the 16 countries having the longest paid leave for new mothers. 

Types Of Maternity Leaves For Women In India

The Maternity Benefit Act is applicable to all organizations in the private sector and public sector that employ 10 or more persons. 

While female civil servants are entitled to maternity leave for a period of 180 days for their first two live-born children, women working in the private sector are advised to get in touch with the respective HR partners, as the Maternity Leave Rules may vary from company to company.

Here’s some more important information that every female employee, irrespective of her pregnancy status, must be aware of when submitting her maternity leave application.

  • For moms with more than two kids

For mothers with more than two children, the maternity leave benefits will only cover about 12 weeks. 

  • Maternity benefits in the adoption

The Act also provides an adoption leave of 12 weeks for a woman who adopts a child under the age of 3 months.

  • Maternity benefits in surrogate pregnancy

In the case of surrogate pregnancy, a commissioning mother (the 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.

  • What about miscarriage leave? 

In case of miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy, a woman shall, 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 six weeks immediately following the day of her miscarriage or, as the case may be, her medical termination of pregnancy.

  • Maternity benefits after tubectomy

In case of a 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.

  • Extension of maternity leave

In case you need to extend your maternity leave due to medical reasons you’re entitled to an additional 30 days paid leave.

As the act says - a woman suffering from illness arising out of pregnancy, delivery, premature birth of a child (miscarriage, medical termination of pregnancy or tubectomy operation) shall 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.

The extension depends on the health of the child and the mother. You can submit medical proof and get an extension. However, post 26 weeks, the leave is usually unpaid. 

  • Work from home for women

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 of this benefit on terms that are mutually agreed with the employer.

  • Crèche facilities in the workplace

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.

  • When maternity leave starts in India

Wondering when maternity leave can be taken in India? How a woman takes those 26 weeks depends on her. She can take all her maternity leave after the birth of her child. 

She can start her pregnancy leave anytime in 8 weeks before her due date. A woman cannot consume more than 8 weeks of maternity leave preceding the date of her expected delivery.

Is Maternity Leave Paid In India? 

The short answer is, “Yes.” While even in developed nations you may have to ask is maternity leave paid or unpaid, in India, maternity leave is paid.

Here are the payment rules during maternity leave in India. 

  • 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.

  • Maternity benefits are awarded at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of a worker's actual absence from work.

  • Apart from 26 weeks of salary (& 12 weeks of salary for an already mother of two), a female worker is entitled to a medical bonus of 3,500 Indian rupees.

  • Under the National Food Security Act 2013, pregnant women and lactating mothers are entitled to receive maternity benefit of at least Rs. 6,000.

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.

Can We Get Free Medical Care In India For Women On Maternity?

Yes, you can get free medical care for women on maternity leave in India.  

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.

This can be increased to a maximum limit of 20,000 rupees. The Central Government is authorized to increase the basic amount every three years.

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

Maternity Leave Updates By The Indian Government

As of 15th Nov 2018, Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD), Rakesh Srivastava said the following - 

"The utilization of the labor welfare cess lying with the state governments has been very less. After talks with the Labour Ministry, it has been decided that the seven of the 26 weeks of maternity leave for all women employees in the private and government sector getting more than Rs 15,000 a month would be paid from that fund."

However, here's what a survey by LocalCircles, a citizens’ forum for 8000+ Startups in December 2018 uncovered -

  • 46% of SMEs and Startups told that they have mostly hired male employees in the last 18 months.

  • Even if the Government pays seven weeks of maternity benefit leave, 42% of Startups and SMEs say they still won’t hire female employees.

  • Despite the Government's proposal to pay 7 weeks of maternity benefit to leaving, 65% of Startups and SMEs still find 19 weeks of business paid leave too much to cover.

  • Only 16% of Startups and SMEs feels that the reimbursement of 7 weeks of Government proposed maternity leave benefit will be efficient and timely.

This is true, in the case of SMEs and Startups, as these are companies with shoe-string budgets and it would be difficult for them to pay Maternity Leave to an employee for 26 weeks and hire another employee for the same task. 

However, even after this, larger firms and MNCs are comfortable implementing the New Maternity Leave Benefits in their policies. These added Maternity Leave Benefits, have seen a very positive impact on female employees. 

It has not just helped in the social, but also in the economic advancement of working women in India’s job market.

Just as 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 work and welcomed her as an employee after her maternity leave.

The Indian Government is committed to helping women keep their jobs through their pregnancy and child-rearing years and many organizations are doing the same today. 

Stay well-informed about the benefits that the government and your organization offer you. As a working mother, you’re valued much more than you think. 

Did I forget to answer any of your questions about maternity benefits and maternity leave in India? Let me know in the comments below.

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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