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All About Maternity Leave In India

Maternity leave is a period of time when a woman takes a break from work following the birth of a child. Maternity leave in India allows a woman employee to take time off work when her child is born. Under the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961, female employees were only entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave.

The Maternity Benefits Act of 2017 increased the period to 26 weeks. Furthermore, noncompliance with the laws and regulations carries a penalty. Organizations can help mothers bond properly with their babies, care for their child's physical needs, and observe all of his or her important developmental stages by providing extended maternity leave.

What is maternity leave?
Maternity leave in India" is a paid leave of absence from work that allows female employees the benefit of taking care of their newly born, retaining their jobs, and also availing paid leave. The Indian government's Maternal Leave program is a well-intended initiative for expectant mothers in India. The Maternity Leave Act of 2017 establishes a period of time for pregnant female employees to be on leave for the benefit of both the mother and the baby. As a result, female employees will receive more benefits.

This Act also specifies the various types of maternity leave and employer-provided benefits available to women in the commercial and public sectors. This is a "fully paid leave' available to a working woman who is pregnant or nursing in order to care for herself and her child. This 2017 amendment significantly modifies India's previous Maternity Act 1961 and applies to enterprises and factories with ten or more employees, whether organised or unorganised.

This allows them to care for the newborn baby while still working for the organization. During this time, the mother is entitled to full payment. As a result, maternity leave is a paid leave policy based on a set of criteria that female employees must meet in order for their claim to be valid.

Laws relating to maternity leave:
Indian constitution The directive principal of the state policy states that "the State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief."

Maternity benefit Act:
assidious working women under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 are allowed to take maternity leave for up to three months. This law also assures that maternity leave is payable and that working women are entitled to payment. The amount payable to her is equal to the rate of average daily wage for the period of her actual absence.

Employees' State Insurance Act, 1948 (ESIA) and the Central Civil Services Rules, 1972 :Under the following scheme all non-season factories which run on power with the capacity of more than 10 employees are covered. This code is ensured The act was made in order to ensure a social insurance scheme and to protect workers in the organised sector during an emergency,which includes maternity to In this condition, if any miscarriage or any unavailability arises due to pregnancy or prematurity, then the owner of such should provide a shareholder to such a company .

International convention :-Members of international labour organization adopted a resolution in an international convention on economic and social rights in 2004 adopted a resolution providing equal opportunity for women . At this conference, a resolution was passed to give 14 weeks of maternity leave to women . India being a member of ILO recognised that its maternity leave was somewhere lacking with the conference and thus added an amendment in 2017 which was later known to be as The maternity amendment bill 2017 .

Other Alternative Laws Similar Laws That Provide Maternity Benefit To The Worker:
In addition to the legislation of the Maternity Benefits Act of 1861, there seem to be numerous statutes that address maternity benefits and wellness. Although not regionally concentrated on writing prescriptions rights to women both during and following pregnancy, these statutes contain separate areas that provide insight in to the same in the frame of reference of the legislation.

The Employer State Insurance Act 1948:
This act is also known as crosspondence to the maternity benefit act because it contains certain provisions which act to safeguard the health of the female worker by the employer.

Under this Act:
Section 46 (1) (b) provides for periodical payments given to a woman employee that is assured under this Act in the event of miscarriage, sickness, operations, etc. arising out of pregnancy, premature birth, or miscarriage,

Section 56(3) of this Act provides for medical benefits to a woman who is qualified to claim maternity benefits from her employer.

The Maternity Benefit Mines and Circus Rules, 1963:
Under this act, it prescribes various procedures and compliances to be followed by employers of such establishments while dealing with maternity health of their employees.

Central Civil Service Rules of 1972 This act is applicable to government servants and provides maternity leave of 135 days to female government servants. During his leave, he will be paid the leave salary which will be equal to the pay of her working day while she was still working in the service. It also provides for a maternity leave not exceeding 45 days in the event of a miscarriage of the foetus.

Mines Act 1952:
Under this act, it provides maternity leave for those women that take part in management, control, supervision, or direction of a mine or any part of the mine. Under this act, the woman concerned can take 12 weeks of maternity leave.

The Factory Act 1948:
Under this act, it provides maternity leave for twelve weeks for women who work in a factory or any part of the factory. Furthermore, it allows employers to employ more than 30 women workers to create a familiar environment for the women workers.

The Maternity Leave Incentive Scheme, 2018:
It provided reimbursement of seven weeks' wages to the employers who employ women workers and provide maternity benefits to them for 26 weeks of paid leave. However, such schemes are in the draft stage and require due consultation and approval to become a full-fledged plan to increase the percentage of women workers and employees in India.

Condition of working women in India:
While this remains the case in the large majority of households, growing economic pressure is encouraging more women to enter the labour force, such that households can still have a dual income. Women have served as an unknown entity in the workforce in the past and since its inception, but this is changing. Despite working, women are still seen as needing primary responsibility for household work and child care.

This scenario is made even more difficult during pregnancy or when there are children to care for. Few employees are sympathetic to this predicament and are unwilling to be flexible with childcare, flexible with hours so that they can care for the children, and unwilling to provide paid maternity leave. Because many businesses and factories are insensitive to the special needs of pregnant women, it is critical that there be a law in place to enforce certain ethics to help women. These various laws were enacted to ensure that all workers have access to maternity leave. In this article, we will look at the various laws and their criticisms.

The Maternity Benefit Bill 2017
In the recent amendment to the maternity bill of 1961, the government of India proposed several changes, i.e., increasing the maternity leave period from three months to six months (from 12 weeks to 26 weeks ). However, in the event that a woman has more than two children, two or more than two children, the woman worker will be subjected to only 12 weeks of maternity leave in addition to six weeks of paternity leave, i.e., 18 weeks total.

An Important Feature Of The Bill:
  1. As per the new amendment, it provides an adoption leave which can be sanctioned upto 12 weeks from the taking of the child's custody. The act also allows 12 weeks for commising mothers. Commissioning mothers are those mothers who fertilize their eggs to create an embryo and implant it into another woman for incubation. They basically conceive through a surrogate.
     
  2. The working woman who has taken maternity leave shall be given at least 80 days' pay in the 12 months prior to her expected date. The amount payable shall be calculated by the average daily wage of the workers. Apart from this 12-week salary, she is also entitled to a bonus of Rs 3,500. If no medical care has been assigned by the employer, then she is entitled to get a 1000 RS bonus.
     
  3. Female civil servants are allowed 180 days of maternity leave for their first two born children. In the case of miscarriage, it allows nursing women to stay at home for 26 weeks .
     
Landmark Judgement:
Mrs. Bharti Gupta vs Rail India Technical and... on August 9, 2005 :- In this judgement, the Hon'ble Court held that in this case, the Court held that the nature and provisions of benefits for women during and after childbirth had been laid down in the Act. The Act is a social and benevolent law and, because of its objective, it had to include the establishments of RITES as falling within its purview.

RITES is an instrument of the State, as laid down by Article 12 of the Indian Constitution and is thus, under the ambit of Part 3 of the Constitution. Thus, RITES had to follow the provisions of the Act and did not have any leverage to be exempted from such duties.

Challenges for the employer:
In terms of employer commitments, India is regarded as unfavourable. This is because the current pregnancy discrimination regulation, the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961, places the entire cost of paying wages to women claiming maternity benefits on the employers. In the majority of countries, such financial burdens are shared by the employer and the state.

However, this is not the method India chose. This indirectly leads to a decrease in female employment in many establishments. In an attempt to improve such conditions, the government of India, as stated, has drafted a scheme called the Maternity Leave Incentive Scheme, 2018, in order to assist employers in providing maternity benefits to women workers.

Several SMEs (small and medium enterprises) could indeed accommodate the six to nine-week time off work that they are required to provide to their own employees, as this would have a negative impact on the company's growth and hiring cheap temporary workers to fill the vacancy caused by accessing maternity benefits becomes somewhat unaffordable.

Employers may also confront the issue of women abusing the Act's measures for their own benefit by claiming maternity coverage and then leaving their jobs instantly after the maternity benefit period has expired, resulting in a significant resource waste for the contractor.

Conclusion:
In today's world, it is critical that women receive adequate maternity leave in order to ensure not only their own but also their children's health. Because of the inherent nature of maternity leave, it has become a critical issue that the government has taken very seriously. In a very progressive move, they increased the length of maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. While this is a welcome change, there are still criticisms of the amendment, and it appears that India still has many other issues to address in the maternity leave debate.

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