Maternity leave policy

Maternity Leave Policy in India - A Guide

In compliance with the Maternity Benefit Act, of 1961, a maternity leave policy supports female employees during maternity or adoption.

Maternity leave in India

A Maternity leave is a break from work granted to women post-childbirth or during adoption of a child. In India, this leave ensures women can adequately care for their newborn/adopted child.

What are the maternity leave rules in India?

👉In 1961, the Indian government established the Maternity Benefit Act, granting women up to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave post-delivery.

👉At the time, fewer women were in the workforce. As the number of working women grew, the act was revised in 2017, extending paid maternity leave to 26 weeks to reflect contemporary needs.

Maternity leave policy - What does it outline?

A maternity leave policy is a formal document or guideline set by an organization that details the rights and benefits of expectant or new mothers in relation to taking a break from work during the period surrounding childbirth or adoption.

👉Duration of Leave: Specifies the length of time a woman can be absent from work. This varies by country and organization but is often influenced by national labor laws.

👉Compensation: Details whether the leave is paid, partially paid, or unpaid, and how the payment will be calculated.

👉Eligibility: Defines who is eligible for maternity leave, which might include stipulations about the length of service with the company before the leave can be taken.

👉Notice Period: May require the employee to provide advanced notice of the intention to take leave and might ask for medical documentation as proof of pregnancy.

👉Health Benefits: Addresses whether the company will continue to provide health insurance or other benefits during the leave period.

👉Return to Work: Covers conditions upon return, including whether the employee is guaranteed the same or a similar role, and if any accommodations, such as flexible working hours or conditions, will be provided.

👉Extensions: Details under which conditions the leave can be extended and the process for requesting an extension.

👉Other Types of Leave: Some policies also address paternity leave, adoption leave, or leave for surrogates.

👉Protection against Discrimination: Ensures that taking maternity leave won't lead to job loss, reduced benefits, or any form of discrimination or penalty.

A well-structured maternity leave policy is essential for both the employer and the employee. It clarifies expectations, reduces uncertainties, and promotes a supportive work environment.

Why is a maternity leave policy necessary for organizations?

Here are some reasons why a maternity leave policy becomes essential in organizations.

👉Retention of Talent:

According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, women who receive paid maternity leave are 93% more likely to be in the workforce 9-12 months after a child's birth than those who take no leave.

👉Enhanced Productivity and Morale:

A study from the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law found that extended maternity leaves, especially paid ones, lead to improved mental health outcomes for mothers. Better mental health can translate to improved workplace productivity and morale.

👉Economic Benefits to Companies:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation reported that businesses that support maternity leave and implement family-friendly policies are more likely to enjoy cost savings through reduced turnover and retraining costs.

👉Promotes Gender Equality in the Workplace:

The International Labour Organization notes that effective maternity leave policies can help narrow the gender gap in the labor market by ensuring women do not have to choose between motherhood and their careers.

Scope of maternity leave policy

The maternity leave policy can be availed by the employees under the following circumstances -

1. Adoption:

  • Eligibility: Women adopting a child.
  • Duration: 12 weeks of paid leave.
  • Condition: The child should be younger than 3 months at the time of adoption.

2. Commissioned Conception:

  • Eligibility: Women who have commissioned another woman to conceive on their behalf.
  • Duration: 26 weeks of paid leave.

3. Surrogacy:

  • Eligibility: Women deciding to be surrogate mothers.
  • Duration: 12 weeks of paid leave

4. Tubectomy:

  • Eligibility: Women undergoing a tubectomy procedure.
  • Duration: 2 weeks of paid leave starting from the operation date.

5. Post-Pregnancy Complications:

  • Eligibility: Women experiencing post-pregnancy issues.
  • Duration: An additional 1 month on top of the 26-week leave.

6. Government Employees:

  • Eligibility: Women working in government offices.
  • Duration: 26 weeks of paid leave.

Maternity leave policy - The key components to consider

🎯Clear Communication: Ensure that all pregnant employees receive detailed, written communication about their maternity rights and the process to avail them.

🎯Compliance with Government Guidelines: Regularly update the Maternity Leave policy in line with current government regulations. This ensures that the organization stays compliant and safeguards the rights of expectant mothers.

🎯Performance Appraisal Considerations: Incorporate provisions that exclude pregnant employees from regular performance appraisal cycles during their maternity leave. This ensures that they aren't unfairly assessed due to their absence.

🎯Work from Home Options: Offer flexibility by allowing expectant mothers to work from home, especially when their role doesn't necessitate being physically present at the workplace. This supports both their health and work-life balance.

🎯Duration & Compensation: Clearly outline the length of maternity leave, including both pre and post childbirth, and detail the compensation structure during this period.

🎯Eligibility Criteria: Define who qualifies for maternity leave, including considerations for part-time employees, surrogates, and adoptive mothers.

🎯Protection Against Discrimination: Emphasize that employees won't face discrimination or job loss due to maternity leave and ensure adherence to this.

🎯Additional Provisions: Address leaves for scenarios like miscarriages, medical terminations, or any post-delivery complications. Also, discuss leaves or benefits for fathers or partners.

By incorporating these components, HR departments can create a comprehensive, supportive, and compliant Maternity Leave policy.

Download Maternity Leave Policy Template


This is a general guide, not a legal document, and may not cover all laws under the Indian Labour law. Neither the writer nor Pazcare will be liable for any legal consequences arising from its use. Consult with a legal professional to ensure compliance and adapt this guide to your business needs.

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