The inclusion of female employees in the workforce has been very less before a few decades. Nowadays, we have significant amount of our workforce as a female workforce but still managing a household and taking care of kids is seen as a primary responsibility of women. Women were given less opportunity because someday they will leave the workforce due to pregnancy. Many employers will plan to dismiss pregnant women, assuming that it will hamper their productivity. In the past women used to lose their jobs due to asking for maternity leave. That caused many women to accept unpaid leave so they can keep their jobs.
The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 was passed by the government to make women employees feel secure about their employment. The bill was amended in 2016 with the most awaited change. The period of maternity leave was increased from 12 weeks of maternity leave to 26 weeks of paid leave. Working women are likely to constantly struggle between work and taking care of the child as they can compromise on neither. The extended period of paid leave gives mothers enough time to bond with their newborn child and take care of the child’s physical healthy until a significant milestone is crossed.
Maternity leave is a benefit that is applicable to all women employees working in the government as well as the corporate sector in India. The paid maternity leave is applicable to pregnant women in India from all states. In an absence of the maternity benefit act, maternity leave can be a very conflicting topic between employees and employers. Women are likely to hesitate to ask for leave as they fear that it might mean losing their job.
The Maternity Benefit Act 1961 gives women employees the right to take 12 weeks of paid leave from their employer. Women are entitled to maternity leave in India and will be paid at the rate of the average daily wage for a period of three months preceding maternity leave.
With maternity benefit amendment Act 2017 the paid maternity leave was extended from 12 weeks to 26 weeks of period. Out of these, eight can be claimed before childbirth. There is a choice of taking the leave lesser than 26 weeks if a woman feels that’s right for her. And it’s also OK to take the entire 26 weeks of leave after childbirth.
There are a few more points that are under the maternity benefits act as listed below
Other than the right to maternity leaves the pregnant women in India have right to ask for light job. They can deny task where one has to stand for hours or ask to work where hazardous substances are used. The employer should ensure the health and safety of the female and ensure that she is not involved in any work six weeks following the delivery as well as miscarriage
The additional benefit in the maternity leave policy includes provision for a non-discriminatory performance appraisal that acknowledges the absence of female employees.
The maternity act also have provision for punishing employer on denial of maternity leaves to the pregnant women. The maternity leave policy at the company is important. It should ensure that the firm don’t lose their employees due to inappropriate leave policy. Additionally the firm will face adverse consequences if they deny female employees maternity leave for the period they are entitled to with the maternity act. This provision is made in the maternity benefit act amendment of 2017. Thats makes it a responsibility of HR to ensure that the maternity leave policy is designed accordingly.