Maternity Benefit Act (Amendments) 2017
The Maternity Benefit Act is aimed at regulating employment of women employees in certain establishments for periods before and after child birth to provide maternity as well as certain other benefits. Additional benefits may also be extended as per the provision of the State Act or as per the company policies.
The Act is in place to protect the rights of the female employees and ensure that employers do not violate the benefits applicable to them. Establishment needs to ensure that the provisions of the Act is strictly adhered to and any violation will attract legal prosecution.
The Objective of the Maternity Benefit Act is to ensure that the well being of the mother and the child is not compromised along with assurance that the female employees do not lose out on the financial benefits during the maternity period.
Maternity Benefit Act Amendments 2017
As per the amendment in Maternity Benefits Act 2017, the following amendments have been made:-
Maternity Benefit Leaves extended from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, for maximum of 2 children.
In case of more than 2 children, the benefit will be restricted to 12 weeks.
The period of availing Maternity Leave prior to expected date of delivery extended from 6 weeks to 8 weeks.
Commissioning Mothers also included in the Benefit scheme, entitled to 12 weeks of leave.
In case of adoption of child below 3 months of age, 12 weeks leave will be extended to the woman employee.
Work from Home facility to be extended to the employee, if the nature of job permits it, with the consent of management.
Establishment with 50 employees or more, should have a crèche facility within the premise of nearby location, with 4 visits permitted on a daily basis.
Communication should be made about the new amendments to the existing and new employees through proper medium.
The Amendment is effective from 1st April, 2017 and women who are already under Maternity Leave at the time of enforcement of this amendment will be eligible enhanced maternity benefit. However, those who have joined back from Maternity Leave before the enforcement of the Act will not be eligible for the extended benefits. The notification regarding the same has been provided in the link shared above. The clarification regarding the Creche and Work from Home is expected soon and same will be updated as and when it is available.
The Act extends to the whole of India and is applicable;
to every factory, mine, plant, including any such establishment belonging to the Government, it also covers establishment engaged in exhibition of equestrian, acrobatic and other performances; and
to every shop and establishment wherein 10 or more persons are employed or were employed in the preceding 12 months. The State Government with the approval of Central Government may extend the provisions of the Act to any other establishment or class of establishments, industrial, commercial, agricultural or otherwise.
Alternatively, Employees may also be covered under the Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) for the Maternity Benefits, provided they qualify for the benefits under the scheme.
Every woman employee, whether employed directly or indirectly or through a contractor, or on casual basis, who has worked in the establishment for a period of at least 80 days during the last 12 months (inclusive of layoff and holidays) shall be entitled to Maternity Benefit.
Employees to be eligible for benefits under ESI Act, would be required to contribute to the scheme for a minimum of 70 days in the last two contribution periods. The extended Benefit under ESI Act has been implemented from 20th January, 2017.
Administration of the Act
The Act is administered by both the Central as well as the State Government. The Central/State Government are required to appoint a competent authority who will be responsible for making rules for the enforcements of the provisions.
Provisions Under the Act
Restriction on Employment of Pregnant Women
Establishment should not allow a pregnant employee to do arduous work involving long hours of standing or any such work is likely to interfere with her pregnancy or adversely affect her health, during the period of 4 weeks preceding and including the 8 weeks period before the expected date of delivery (12 weeks before expected delivery).
No Establishment should employ a woman during the 6 weeks period immediately following the date of her delivery or miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy.
Discharge or Dismissal To Be Void
If a pregnant woman absents herself from work in accordance with the provisions of the Act, it is unlawful for the establishment to discharge or dismiss her on account of such absence. Maternity Benefit cannot be denied to the pregnant woman unless she is discharged or dismissed on account of gross misconduct.
Benefits Under Maternity Benefit Act
Maternity Benefit is payable to Woman employee at the rate of average daily wages for the actual period of her absence, during the benefit period. Wage/Salary includes basic salary, dearness and house rent allowance, incentive bonus, food coupons and any other benefit normally available to an employee.
The Benefit is payable for maximum period of 26 weeks of which not more than 8 weeks shall precede the date of expected delivery. In case of more than 2 children, the maximum leave benefit will be restricted to 12 weeks.
Commissioning Mothers are also entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leaves along with one’s adopting child upto 3 months of age (leave counted from date of adoption/handover).
Work from Home if the nature of job is so with mutual consent of management.
Creche facility should be provided by establishment employing 50 or more employees in any particular location. The facility should be within the premises or in close proximity and woman employee should be allowed to visit the same for 4 times during the day.
Wage/Salary payable is the average of 3 month’s salary paid to an employee, immediately preceding the date from which she absents herself on account of maternity.
Leave for Miscarriage and Illness
In case of miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy, a woman shall, on production of evidence is entitled to 6 weeks of paid leave, immediately following her miscarriage.
Leave for Tubectomy Operation
In such cases, a woman on submission of due proofs will be entitled to 2 weeks of paid leave, immediately following the operation.
Leave for Illness
Maximum Paid Leave for 1 month is allowed in case of illness arising out of pregnancy, or issues related to it.
Every Establishment with 50 employees or more is required to provide crèche facilities within the permissible limit. The Employee will be allowed four visits to the crèche in a day. This will include her interval for rest.
Under the Act, Every woman is entitled to Medical Bonus of Rs 3,500/-, if no pre-natal confinement and post-natal care is provided by the employer.
Woman employee entitled to maternity benefits may give in writing/electronic mode (in prescribed format) to her employer, stating
The period of absence as per provisions of Maternity Benefit Act
Consent that she will not be engaged in any other establishment during the period she receives the maternity benefit.
Nomination for Maternity Benefit as specified in the form.
Forfeiture of Maternity Benefits
If any woman employee, who is on maternity leave is found to be working in any other establishment for any period during the leave, then her claim to maternity benefit for such period is liable to be forfeited.
Obligations of Employers
Payment of Maternity Benefits to the Employees and provide the facilities as per the provisions of the Maternity Benefit Act.
Not to take any action in contravention to the Provisions of the Act.
To issue complete information related to the Act to the employees, in the language easily understood by the majority of the workforce.
To maintain prescribed registers/records and file proper returns.
Rights of Employers
Appeal against an order made by the inspector to the competent Authority, Within 30 days of service of the order.
Rights of Employees
Complain to the Inspector regarding the Benefits withheld by the Employer.
Appeal against any order which deprives the Woman employee of her rights, within 60 days of such order.
Offences and Penalties
Failure to adhere to rules laid down under the Act or any contravention to the law is punishable under Law. Imprisonment upto 1 year or fine upto Rs 5,000/- or both may be enforced depending on the nature of violation.
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