Maternity Leave Policy in India | Free Download

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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.




What is the Maternity benefit Act 1961?

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.




  • A woman is entitled to the maternity leave in India. They need to be working in the for at least 80 days in the company.
  • This is applicable to all the establishments with over 10 employees.
  • Applicable to women employees on a contract or permanent basis.
  • Women who are expecting a child after having two children can get paid maternity leave of 12 weeks i.e. 6 weeks pre-delivery and the rest of 6 weeks post-delivery.
  • Every woman who has adopted a child will get the maternity leave 12 weeks long from the date of adoption.
  • The maternity act is also applicable to the commissioning mothers. The biological mother who imparts their egg to create an embryo which is then planted in another woman is eligible for the maternity leave of 12 weeks.
  • The act also has a provision for tubectomy, a woman can get 2 weeks’ leave, from the date of the tubectomy procedure.
  • If the woman suffers from critical illness post-pregnancy, they can get four weeks of leave in India




The Maternity Benefit Act Amendment 2017

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

  • The maternity benefit amendment introduces provision for “work from home”. This option may be used after the expiry of the 26 weeks’ leave period. Depending upon the nature of work, women employees may be able to work from home if the employer allows it with mutual agreement.
  • Amendment Act for the maternity leaves makes crèche facilities mandatory for every establishment employing 50 or more employees. the women employees will be allowed to visit the crèche four times during the day
  • It’s mandatory for an employer to make women employees aware of maternity leave policy at the company under the maternity leave act in India.
  • Termination of the employee coinciding with the maternity leave is considered to be termination on account of pregnancy. This termination at the time of the maternity leave is illegal and unjustifiable.
  • The termination on the maternity leave in India will be considered illegal even if an employer has mentioned in the contract that termination could occur without the provision of reasons.

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.




Denial of Maternity Leave

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.

  • This amendment in the act of maternity leave makes it mandatory for all corporates and other establishments to follow the maternity benefits act as described below.
  • Now women employees will be entitles to maternity leave of 6 months which was only 3 months previously. The maternity benefits act allows to revoke the benefits only if women change her job during this period.
  • The woman employee who is already on leave is entitled to get the benefit of this act too.
  • The employer can be punished for discharging or dismissing a pregnant employee for being absent due to pregnancy, delivery or post-natal illness.
  • Women can file a complaint in the labour court if she is denied leave that she is entitled to. She can also file a case against the employer if she is being dismissed from her job for being absent during the period under the maternity leave in India.
  • The punishment for such an offence by employer can be imprisonment for 3 months and fine

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