This article interprets the provisions of the Maternity Allowance Act of 1961 and the amendment of 2017. This work was carried out by Pooja Ganesh student at SASTRA Deemed University
The Maternity Allowance Act of 1961 is the Protection Act; women’s rights during maternity leave. It regulates the employment of pregnant women before, during and after the birth of a child. This law gives working women certain financial benefits during maternity leave. The law has spread to all of India except for the states of Jammu and Kashmir. The main purpose of this law is to bring social justice to working women.
The provisions of the law apply to all types of branches, e.g. B. factories, mines or plantations of any kind. However, this only applies to facilities in which 10 or more employees work. The provisions of the Act do not apply to a facility subject to the provisions of the Employees State Insurance Act of 1948. A new law amending the Maternity Allowance Act was passed in 2017. It received the approval of the President and came into force in April 2017. The author in this article interprets the provisions of the Maternity Allowance Act 1961 and the Maternity Allowance Act (amendment). Law, 2017.
Work ban for a certain period
Before giving birth, pregnant women are not allowed to do any work that includes:
- Laborious nature
- Any work with long downtimes.
- A job that can affect the growth of the fetus
- Any work that can lead to miscarriages
- Any work that adversely affects the health of the pregnant women.
Women under this law are protected in the event of childbirth and miscarriage or medical abortion. According to Section 4 of the Act, the employer should not knowingly employ any woman in the 6 weeks immediately following the day of her pregnancy or miscarriage.
It has been found that a woman can take vacation for 6 weeks after her pregnancy or miscarriage. If she applies for this leave, she cannot be asked to work by the employer under Section 4 of the 1961 Maternity Allowance Act.
Payment of maternity allowance
Entitlement to maternity benefit
Section 5 ensures that every woman is entitled to maternity benefit. The employer is obliged to pay an average daily wage for the actual absence of the employee. The absence period includes both before and after delivery. She is entitled to the average rate of her earnings for the last 3 months prior to the date of absence, or 1 rupee per day, or the minimum wage set out in the Minimum Wage Act of 1948, whichever is greater.
The employee can only demand performance from the employer if he has worked for the employer in this company. The claim can only be asserted if she has worked at least 80 days before her expected delivery date. The employee can request for the period in which she was dismissed by the employer. Maternity allowance can only be granted for a period of twelve weeks. If she dies during this time, maternity benefit will only be granted for the days up to and including the date of her death. In B. Shah v. Labor CourtIt was found that Sundays are also included in the calculation of the working time before the delivery date. According to Section 5 of the Act, the word period includes the repetition of the cycle of seven days in a week, as well as Sunday and other unpaid holidays.
Section 6 contains the rule that an employee applying for maternity allowance should notify the employer in writing. In this notification, she must state the maternity allowance and any other amount to which she is entitled. She can also designate anyone else to receive the amount. The period of maternity leave and the date of delivery should be clearly indicated in the notification. If the employee has not made the notice in advance, he must submit it as soon as possible after delivery.
Death of a woman
The question arises, what happens to the payment of maternity benefit if a woman dies during the period in which she is entitled to maternity benefit?
Section 7 of the Act answers this question. If an employee is entitled to maternity benefit and dies before receiving it, that person will receive the person named by the employee in the notification under Section 6. If no candidate is specified in the communication, the legal representative has the right to receive the performance.
Section 8 provides that any worker who is legally entitled to maternity benefit is also entitled to a medical bonus of Rs 1,000. The exceptional case is when the employer looks after them before or after the birth. The central government can increase this bonus amount every 3 years. However, it can only be extended up to a maximum of Rs 20,000.
Every woman who receives maternity benefit has the right to leave with wages. Section 9 of the law is about to miscarry. If an employee has an abortion, she must provide the evidence required by the employer. If she meets this condition, she is entitled to leave with wages. Section 9A states that a woman undergoing a tubectomy is entitled to leave with wages on presentation of evidence.
Section 10 covers the other sheets such as disease due to pregnancy, miscarriage or premature birth and tubectomy. The employee should provide evidence that he has received other sheets. These “other sheets” are added to the benefits under Section 6 or 9 of the Act. The evidence presented should correspond to the procedure specified by the employer.
Up to the age of 15 months, the child needs special care and attention. The law also provides for care breaks in accordance with Section 11. It enables every woman to take two breaks from nursing care after giving birth. This applies in addition to the vacation or interval that is already permitted.
The employer cannot do two things under this law:
- Dismissed the woman from her job because she was absent due to pregnancy. (Section 12)
- Deduction of wages for the employee who is entitled to maternity benefit under this Act. Even the employer cannot deduct the wages for the care breaks. (Section 13)
Section 21 of the Act provides that an employer who violates the provisions of the Act will be punished with a prison sentence of 3 months or a fine of 500 rupees, or both. If the employer has not paid the maternity benefit to the person concerned, the court can order him to pay such an amount with the amount of the fine.
Important changes to the Maternity Allowance Act, 2017
- The Maternity Allowance Act extended the paid maternity leave. Before the change, employees were given 12 weeks of paid maternity leave. After the change, this was extended to 26 weeks. Before the expected delivery date, women can take 8 weeks and the remaining period after the birth of the child. If the woman survives with two or more children, she can take 12 weeks of maternity leave.
- The commissioning mothers and mothers who adopt a child under the age of 3 receive a period of 12 weeks maternity leave.
- The Amending Act also introduced the provision of “work from home”. After the planned maternity leave of 26 weeks has expired, employees can work from home. This can only be claimed from the conditions agreed between employer and employee.
- This amendment law also obliges the companies to provide the crèche facility. This is mandatory for a facility with 50 or more employees. They can visit the crèche 4 times a day, including the breaks given to them.
- At the time of employment, the employer should make clear to the employee the maternity benefits available. You have a responsibility to educate and guide them.
Disadvantages of the Maternity Allowance Act
The introduction of the crèche in the facility will cost more expenses. Many companies will not have the financial stability to provide such a facility. This can also be a reason for companies to avoid appointing young women. Then there will be gender discrimination in the hiring process. Work efficiency is lost during maternity leave.
The employer bears all costs. The employer pays the employee who is on break and also compensates for work that has not yet been done. Another person is working on behalf of the absent employee who may not be suitable for the job. This increases the burden on the employer. Many women lose their jobs because of their demands for maternity leave and benefits.
The cost of maternity leave is not shared by social security programs or agencies, nor by government systems or agencies. It is a full burden on the employer to pay maternity benefits. The “work from home” system will not be an effective system. The employer cannot supervise the employee all day to check whether the employee is actually working or not.
“The Maternity Allowance Act of 1961 aims to make all of these facilities available to a working woman in a dignified manner so that she can honorably, peacefully, and unwaveringly overcome the state of motherhood for fear of being the victim of forced absence during or before death to become birth period. “
This has been proven by the law in those years. Although there are only a few disadvantages, the Maternity Allowance Act has surpassed the other labor law laws by protecting the rights of workers, especially women workers. A woman cannot be made to choose between motherhood and employment.
The Maternity Allowance Act balances the two aspects without prejudice. These acts bring social justice to women and make women more efficient as mothers and workers.
 Punjab National Bank v Astamija Dash, (2008) 14 SCC 370.
 Ram Bahadur Thakur v Chief Inspector of Plantations, (1989) 1 LLN 906.
 B. Shah v Labor Court, AIR 1978 SC 12.
 Municipal Corporation of Delhi v Female Workers, 2000 (3) SCC 224.
 Rakhi PV v Kerala State, 2018 (2) KHC 251.