In India, the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 governs the maternity leave rules for women employed in factories, mines, plantations, and other establishments. However, in 2017 some amendment were made to the act. So here are the key provisions of the act:
Duration of maternity leave
As per the act, a woman is entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave for her first two children. For any subsequent children, the entitlement is for 12 weeks of maternity leave.
Payment during maternity leave
The act provides for payment of maternity benefits to women during the period of their maternity leave. The amount of maternity benefit is calculated based on the average daily wage of the woman for the period of her actual absence from work.
Intervals for nursing breaks
Women are entitled to two nursing breaks of 15 minutes each, in addition to their regular lunch break, until the child is six months old.
Work from home option
As per the latest amendments to the act under Section 5(5), women are also entitled to work from home if the nature of their work allows for it. This is after the exhaustion of maternity leave
Maternity leave extension
In case of illness arising out of pregnancy, delivery, premature birth of child, miscarriage, or medical termination of pregnancy, a pregnant woman can extend her maternity leave by an additional one month.
Read: Maternity health insurance
Key differences between the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 and the amended act of 2017.
The Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 was introduced to provide for maternity leave and other benefits for working women. At the time, the act provided for 12 weeks of paid maternity leave, with the employer required to pay the woman her full wages during the leave period. The act also provided medical benefits and other protections for pregnant women and new mothers.
Number of leaves
In 2017, the act was amended to provide for several significant changes. The most notable change was an increase in the duration of maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for women working in establishments with 10 or more employees. This change was made to bring India in line with international standards and to give women more time to recover from childbirth and bond with their babies.
Leaves for adoption
The 2017 amendment also introduced maternity leave of 12 weeks for women who adopt a child below the age of three months, as well as for commissioning mothers who use a surrogate to carry their child. The act also requires employers to provide information and communicate about the maternity benefits available to their employees in writing and electronically.
Another significant change introduced by the 2017 amendment was the requirement for establishments with 50 or more employees to provide crèche facilities for working mothers. The crèche must be located within 500 meters of the workplace and provide facilities such as clean drinking water, a safe and hygienic environment, and at least one attendant for every 10 children.
In summary, the 2017 amendment increased the duration of maternity leave, provided for maternity leave for adoptive and commissioning mothers, required employers to provide information about maternity benefits, and mandated crèche facilities for larger establishments.