Looking back at the changes that Labour Code 2020 brought to maternity benefits in India

2020, in many ways, marked a new era for the employee healthcare sector. While on one side COVID-19 brought along work from home model that was introduced with several mental and virtual healthcare benefits, the Labour Code 2020 came with several maternity benefits in India for biological mothers.  

The year, in a crux, brought along a change in how we used to look at employee benefits. It gave us a more holistic view of how health trumps every infrastructure-specific benefit that the employers once offered to attract employees.  

While, through multiple articles, we have already talked about how the employee benefits have changed in the pandemic world, the growing inclinations towards digitization of healthcare etc. Let us look back at the impactful changes that were brought along by the Labour Code 2020 (more specifically by the Code on Social Security 2020) in maternity benefits in workplace.  

What is Code on Social Security 2020?  

Code on Social Security 2020, which from here we will call Code, received Presidential Assent on 28th September 2020. It subsumes nine regulations specific to employee benefits, social security, and retirement, such as:  

  1. The Employees Compensation Act, 1923 
  2. The Employees State Insurance Act, 1948,
  3. The Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952
  4. The Employees Exchange (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959
  5. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
  6. The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972
  7. The Cine Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981
  8. The Building and Other Construction WorkersCass Act, 1996 
  9. The Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008).

Key definitions under the Social Security code 

Employee: Employee: “Employee” has been defined as any person (other than an apprentice engaged under the Apprentices Act, 1961) employed on wages by an establishment, either directly or through a contractor, to do any skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled, manual, operational, supervisory, managerial, administrative, technical, clerical or any other work, whether the terms of employment be express or implied. The employee of definition may vary for different chapters under the Social Security Code based on the quantum of wages such an employee earns. 

Social security: “Social Security” under the SS Code means the measures of protection afforded to employees, unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers to ensure access to health care and to provide income security, particularly in cases of old age, unemployment, sickness, invalidity, work injury, maternity or loss of a breadwinner by means of rights conferred on them and schemes framed, under the Social Security Code. 

While all the nine elements that the code addressed saw a valued change, the one we are going to look into detail today is the changes in maternity benefits in India.  

What are the maternity benefits in India introduced by the Labour Code 2020?  

Maternity benefits are now available to every woman employed in mines, factories, plantations, and other establishments which employs more than 10 employees. The maternity benefits in workplace according to the new Indian Labour Code 2020 are as follows.  

maternity benefits in India

  1. It is deemed illegal for employer to employ a woman within six months of delivery or soon after her miscarriage or medical termination of the pregnancy.  
  2. If a woman decides to work during the period in which she is entitled the maternity leave, she cannot be forced to do difficult, tiring, or a task that involves standing for long hours.
  3. If she already has two or more children, the leave with pay will be entitled to only 12 weeks. If she has no other child or 1 child, the maternity leave in India rule states that the pay will be of 26 weeks.  
  4. In case a woman dies during the period of maternity benefit, then the benefits will be payable up-to the day of her death. But, if she dies and leaves a child behind, then the maternity benefits for the full period will be payable by the employer. 
  5. If she is employed in a job that can be done on a ‘work from home’ basis, then even after the end of the maternity leave, she can ask her employer to move her to a ‘work from home’ model.  
  6. In case the employer doesn’t offer any post natal care or pre-natal confinement a women will also be entitled to a bonus of Rs. 3500 along with the maternity leave.  
  7. After the woman employee joins the office after delivery, she will be entitled to two breaks for nursing her child, till the child is one and a half years old. 
  8. If a woman goes through a miscarriage or under goes medical termination of the pregnancy, she will be entitled leave with pay for a period of six weeks following the date if termination or miscarriage.  
  9. If any illness arises out of the pregnancy, premature birth, miscarriage, or medical termination of the pregnancy, the woman employee will be entitled to an additional month of leave with pay. 
  10. As per the employer maternity leave obligations, a woman on maternity leave cannot be dismissed from work or given a notice for dismissal. Even if she gets dismissed, she will be given the maternity benefits that can only be scrapped if the woman employee is punished or accused of gross misconduct. 
  11. The maternity benefit should be paid in advance (for the period before the date of delivery) and within 48 hours of the production of proof of delivery. In some cases, an inspector-cum-Facilitator can be appointed for initiating payments due under maternity benefit.  
  12. As highlighted in the maternity leave rules in India, if a woman legally adopts a child below the age of three years or is a commissioning mother, she will be entitled to maternity benefit. The benefits will be for a period of 12 weeks starting from the date when the child gets handed over to the adopting mother. 
  13. In mines, factories, plantations and other establishments where there are 50 or plus employees, there should be a creche facility within a prescribed distance or within the premises.  

*Disclaimer*: This article is only for informational purposes, contact your legal aid before you act on them.  

So here were the key points of the Code on Social Security 2020 around applying for maternity leaves and maternity benefits in India. What lies in the crux of it all is that maternity benefits are a very pivotal part of the process when you design healthcare plans for women employees. While the elements are more of less around maternity leave and the overall comfort to a new mother or someone who lost her baby, it is equally important to take care of the mom-to-be women employees during their birthing journey. This is where Onsurity comes in.  

Onsurity offers a range of preventive healthcare benefits that women employees can take advantage of. Right from free online doctor consultation and medicine delivery to maternity insurance provided by our partnered insurance agencies, we have plans engineered to meet your women workforce needs. Get in touch with us at partners@onsurity.com to discuss your objective. 

Tripti Rai

Being in the B2B content domain for several years now, Tripti Rai is presently focusing on unfolding the elements that make employee healthcare more accessible. Currently associated with Onsurity as a Content Manager, she is keeping herself well read with how the employee health and wellness sector is changing and what can HRs do to make it more inclusive.

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