Maternity Leave in India: The Law, Importance and Benefits

Pregnancy is one of the most important stages a woman goes through in her life physically and mentally. This time is extremely beautiful as well as challenging simultaneously for a woman, and that’s why she must have the kind of rights which help her focus on her own and baby’s health without taking any stress.

Also, considering the current scenario where women are empowering and dominantly being a part of several organizations, the concern of pregnancy prevails for working women as pregnancy is one of the phases in life that many families expect to happen soon and plan for childbirth.

Women are concerned about if they will lose their job because of pregnancy or if she will be able to live to her professional standards with maternity leave, or if the leave is paid. These are some of the frequently asked questions.

Which is why, the benefit of maternity leave in India has been reformed for the welfare of women in the times of pregnancy that every expectant mother and working couple should be aware of.

What is Maternity Leave in India?

Maternity leave in India is a paid leave of absence from work which supports women employees with the benefit of providing them enough time to take care of their baby, and be able to retain their job at the same time.

In India, the first Maternity leave Act was established in 1961 called, The Maternity leave Benefit Act 1961. This agenda of this act was to ensure women employees getting a paid leave of 12 weeks post-delivery to take care of themselves and their newly born.

Organizations with 10 + employees got eligible for the establishment of this act including their women employees on a contract or permanent basis.

Due to a change in the current scenario of employment, social and economic changes, the Maternity Leave Act was revised as The Maternity Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017.

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017, was passed by the Rajya Sabha in August 2016, also got approved by the Lok Sabha in, March 2017.

Changes made under the law for maternity leave in India

  • Paid maternity leave in India – increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for working women.
  • Law is eligible for only those who work in an organization with a minimum of 10 employees.
  • Prenatal leave – increased from 6 to 8 weeks.
  • Woman who is the mother of 2 or more children is eligible for 12 weeks of maternity leave.
  • Woman who adopts a child under the age of 3 months, is eligible for a leave period of 12 weeks.
  • Commissioning mother (surrogate mother) is eligible for a leave period of 12-weeks right from the day when the child is handed over.
  • A woman should have completed working for 80 days in the current establishment in the last 12 months to get an eligibility for maternity leave in India.
  • Paid leave is calculated based on the average daily wage for the period of absence.

Set of guidelines and maternity leave rules in India for an employer:

  • According to the act, no pregnant woman should be given difficult tasks especially including more of physically challenging work, at least till the ten weeks before the delivery for mother’s and child’s safety.
  • A pregnant woman should not be involved in any work six weeks following the delivery as well as miscarriage.
  • An employer is strictly not allowed to dismiss a female employer during the maternity leave period.
  • In an organization of 50 plus employees, a Crèche facility is to be provided by the employer. after the female employee comes back to work after maternity leave.
  • An employer is charged a fine of Rs. 5000/- or imprisonment which up to a year or with both, if they do not follow the guidelines and norms of the act.

The Maternity Leave Act is applied to:

Maternity leave in India

  • Adoptive mothers – are eligible for 12 weeks leave starting from the day of adoption for the baby below 3 months of age.
  • Commissioning mothers – the biological mother who imparts her egg to create an embryo which is then planted in another woman is eligible for 12 weeks leave.
  • Tubectomy cases – a woman can opt for 2 weeks leave, from the date of the tubectomy operation.
  • Illness post-pregnancy – the act allows a benefit of 1 month for women who are suffering from critical illness post pregnancy.
  • Government civil employees – are eligible for a paid leave of 180 days for the first 2 live-born children.
  • Private sector employees – Women in private sectors are supposed to ensure maternity leave policies with their HR team. Since, it might vary from company to company. It is the duty of an HR to draft and revise a detailed Maternity Leave Policy and also take an initiative to make pregnant women work from home for better comfort. Such maternity leave rules for private sector are important.

The Bottom Line

Regardless of the role that a woman plays in her life, from a homemaker to a job person, she has all the rights to make her phase of pregnancy a high priority before anything else. That’s why it is important for every woman and her family to be aware of such maternity benefits. 

Also for an employer, apart from giving mandatory maternity benefits from the organization itself, here’s an affordable and wonderful effort you can make for your female employees who are to-be mothers, to make their pregnancy even more beautiful and safe which can even help boost their morale and productivity.

That is, providing Onsurity’s healthcare plan. 

Onsurity offers a comprehensive healthcare with multiple health benefits that your women employees can make a use of. From free online doctor consultations to medicine delivery, to group health insurance, Onsurity has created the healthcare plans that are perfect to fulfill the needs of your female workforce.

Contact us at partners@onsurity.com to get an instant quote.