Development and growth won’t accomplish its ideal outcomes without making favorable conditions for women to assume a functioning job in the workforce. Since women constitute practically 50% of the population, their dynamic interest in all circles of life is necessary to accomplish the objective of sustainable development for any nation. So as to establish the framework of correspondence, women ought to be made monetarily autonomous. Considering the unique role of a mother that a woman plays a suitable system for giving maternity benefit is required to guarantee her dynamic support in monetary exercises post maternity.
The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 is an enactment that ensures the work of ladies at the hour of her maternity. It entitles ladies representatives of ‘maternity advantage’ which is completely paid wages during the absence from work and to deal with her child. The Act is applicable to the foundations employing at least 10 employees. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961(hereinafter, The Act) has been amended through the Maternity (Amendment) Bill 2017 which was passed in the Lok Sabha on March 09, 2017. From there on, the said Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha on August 11, 2016. Further, it got consent from the President of India on March 27, 2017. The arrangements of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 (“Amendment Act”) became effective on April 1, 2017, and the arrangement concerning crèche office (Section 111 A) happened with impact from July 1, 2017.
Object and Scope
The Act aims to regulate the work of ladies in certain foundations for specific periods, before and after childbirth and to provide maternity benefit and certain different advantages to women workers.
The State Government is empowered to extend any of the provisions of the Act to some other foundation or class of foundations, industrial, commercial, agricultural or otherwise with the approval of the Central Government by giving not less than two month’s notification of its goal of doing so.
The Act bars the applicability of the provisions of the Act to any factory or other establishments to which the provisions of the Employees State Insurance Act,1984 applies except as otherwise provided in section 5A and 5B of the Act.
Need of Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, 2017
With the advent of the modern age, as the number of women employees is increasing, maternity leave and other maternity benefits are progressively becoming more common around the world.
However, there was no advantageous piece of enactment in the respect which tries to accomplish the goal of social equity to ladies laborers utilized in factories, mines and plantation. Thus the Maternity Benefit Act was enacted.
The goal of Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 was to give maternity leave and advantage to women employees and ensure their pride of parenthood by accommodating the full and sound maintenance of women and her child.
Significant Features of The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017 has made changes to the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961. The significant point of the amendment Act is to regulate the work of women during the time of childbirth. It has amended the provision related to the duration and applicability of maternity leave and other facilities.
- To avail the benefits of The Act woman must be working as an employee in an establishment for a period of at least 80 days in the past 12 months to be entitled to maternity benefit under the provisions of the Maternity Benefit Act.
- The Act is applicable to all those women working in factories, mines and shops or business foundations which employ at least 10 employees. However, for those women who are expecting after 2 children, the duration of the leave stays unaltered at 12 weeks.
- It further stretched out the benefits to the adoptive and commissioning mothers by giving them 12 weeks of maternity leave from the date of adoption. The paid maternity leave can be availed 8 weeks before the expected date of delivery. Before the amendment, it was 6 weeks. Remaining 18 weeks can be availed post labor.
- The Act has introduced an enabling provision relating to work from home that can be practiced after the expiry of 26 weeks leave period. Contingent on the idea of work, women can avail this provision such terms that are commonly concurred with the business.
- The amendment Act has mandated a crèche facility for every establishment employing 50 or more employees. The women employees should be permitted to visit the facility four times during the day.
- The amended Act makes it mandatory for employers to inform the women workers about the maternity benefits available to them at the hour of their appointment.
The Significance of Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, 2017
1. Survival of mother and the child:
The amendment has increased the maternity profits from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. This is noteworthy and is in accordance with recommendation of the world health organization which specifies that kids ought to be solely breastfed by the mother for the initial 24 weeks along these lines the increase in the maternity leave will help in improving endurance power of children and help in the sound development of both mother and the child
2. Female participation in workforce:
The amendment will decrease the instances of women leaving work because of absence of adequate maternity leave
3. Adopting and commissioned mother:
Another noteworthy element is the introduction of maternity advantages to the embracing and commissioned mothers therefore enabling them to deal with their children.
4. Third such nation:
The amended arrangements have put India third overall just behind Canada and Norway internationally in the number of maternity benefits being made accessible to the female employees of workforce
Drawbacks of the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, 2017
1. Inclination to male workers:
The increase in maternity leave could likewise adversely affect job opportunities for women.
2. Increase in expense:
The obligatory full payment of wages during maternity leave and giving of the crèche and different facilities would further increase the expense for employers subsequently and hence there might be a shift in the hiring preference of the employers The arrangements could likewise influence the intensity of industries that mostly employ female workers
3. Paternity benefits :
Presently, paternity benefits are permitted in government occupations as a piece of leave rules and in private associations as matter of internal arrangement n a nation where sexual orientation stereotype are predominant, a gender balanced approach to deal with parenthood is required ,however the amendment act is silent on this issue
Employer’s perspective on the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, 2017
Study reveals that employers perceive that they are vulnerable to both direct and indirect costs when they provide maternity protection to the women workers
Indirect costs accruing to the employer are:
a) The expense of human capital depreciation with the returning mother frequently requires a similar measure of preparation as a new job applicant in her position would require. This expense of human capital depreciation, the employer feels, is expected to increase with the increase in leave duration.
b) The expenses of revamping imposed on the employer. a woman taking maternity leave makes an issue of having to rearrange work for an employer who needs to figure out how to have the work done that was in the past performed by the mother on leave by either employing a substitute or organizing work sharing which prompts work pressure among existing representatives.
Direct expenses of maternity leave:
a) Payments a woman gets during maternity leave.
b) Payment made to substitute appointed.
Employee’s perspective of the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, 2017
According to the Act, no women will be entitled to these benefits unless she has actually worked in the establishment for a time of not less than 80 days in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of her expected delivery.
This Act is applicable to shops and foundations in which at least ten people are employed, or were employed, on any day of the preceding twelve months. Employees propose that above two provisions should be done away so that the act has a wider applicability and the benefits are accessible by more female workers.
The duration of the leave must be extended so as to permit a mother to completely recover as well as productively nurture her new born child. Nursing breaks provision is not applicable unless and until crèches/rest rooms are accessible at the workplace.
A discourse on maternity insurance and advantages is pointless without touching upon the issues of sexual orientation equity. Equality is a necessity in order to achieve the end goal of justice to prevail. The impression of mothers as expert caregivers exposes them to social pressures to sacrifice their careers, while men, as the less talented parents, continue to compete in the marketplace.
Provisions on extended maternity leave, offices like crèche, work from home and so forth have not only generated motivation in women to join the workforce but also motivated them to continue working. Consequently, a dynamic move in type of better maternity benefits is positively a stage forward towards the objective of reasonable improvement. In any case, the test is to guarantee that the most extreme number of women take an interest in the workforce and continue to work to secure their economic independence.
- The Maternity Benefit Act,1961 at https://blog.ipleaders.in/the-maternity-benefit-act/
- Indian Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act,2017 at https://www.pillsburylaw.com/en/news-and-insights/indian-maternity-benefit-amendment-act-2017.html
- Crèche Facilityby Employers in India at https://www.mondaq.com/india/employee-rights-labour-relations/766160/guidelines-for-setting-up-of-crche-facilities
- The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act,2017 at https://www.prsindia.org/sites/default/files/The%20Maternity%20Benefit%20%28Amendment%29%20Act%2C%202017.pdf
- An overview of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act,2017 at https://www.icsi.edu/media/portals/22/Article%20on%20MBA%20Act,%202017.pdf
- The Benefits the Women are Entitles to under The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act,2017 at https://www.livemint.com/money/personal-finance/the-benefits-women-are-entitled-to-and-the-rights-they-can-claim-under-maternity-1557655754106.html
- Government Throws Light on Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act,2017 at https://www.mondaq.com/india/employee-benefits-compensation/590394/government-throws-light-on-the-maternity-benefit-amendment-act-2017
Q1. Is the Maternity Benefit Act applicable to all organizations?
As per Section 2 of The Act, the Act is applicable to every establishment being a factory, including every shop and establishment in which 10 or more persons are employed
Q2. What is the duration of Maternity Leave for working women?
As per the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 :
- Women who have completed 80 days in the 12 months immediately preceding the date of her expected delivery is entitled to maternity leave for a maximum of 26 weeks of which not more than 8 weeks shall be preceding the expected date of her delivery.
- Women having 2 or more surviving children shall be allowed maternity leave of 12 weeks of which not more than 6 weeks should be before the expected date of her delivery;
- Additional 30 days of maternity shall be available for sickness arising out of being in the family, premature delivery or medical termination of pregnancy.
Q3. Whether the Benefits of Maternity Benefit Act can be extended to the women employed in the unorganized sector?
The Maternity Benefit Act is applicable to all mines, plantations, shops, establishments and factories either in organized sector or unorganized sector.
Q4. What are the benefits available to commissioning and adopting mothers?
As per Section 3(ba) of the Act, commissioning mother means a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in any other woman.
As per Section 5(4), adoptive mothers who adopt a child of up to 3 months or a commissioning mother, are entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave from the date of commissioning/adoption.
Q5. Whether the employer has to be intimate about the maternity benefits available to women working in their organization?
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 makes it mandatory for employers to intimate every female employee by writing or electronically at the time of her appointment regarding every benefit available to them under Section 11A (2) of the Maternity Benefit Act.
Q6. Does an employer have to necessarily provide Crèche?
As per Section 11(A) of the Act, every establishment having fifty or more employees has to provide the facility of crèche within such distance as per prescribed rules, either separately or along with common facilities. The employer shall four visits a day to crèche by the women including the interval for rest. This provision of the act came into force on 1st July, 2017.
Q7. Does an employer necessarily need to give the facility of work from home?
As per Section 5(5) of the Act, in case where the nature of work assigned to a woman is of such nature that she may work from home, the employer may allow her to do so after availing of the maternity benefit for such period and on such conditions as the employer and the woman may mutually agree.