In view of the plethora of queries received following the enactment of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, the Ministry of Labour and Employment has released a set of clarifications addressing such concerns.
The release clarifies that the Act is applicable to contractual or consultant women employees, as well as to the women who are already on maternity leave at the time of enforcement of the Amendment Act. Further, the Act is also applicable to all mines, plantations, shops and establishments and factors, whether in organized or unorganized sector.
However, the women employees who have already availed 12 weeks of maternity leave before the enforcement of the Act shall not be entitled to avail the extended benefit of a 26 weeks leave.
The Act had received the assent of the President on March 27, 2017, and had come into force on April 1, 2017. However, the provision for creche facilities [S.4(1)]shall be enforced from July 1, 2017.
The Amendments protect the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitle her of a ‘maternity benefit’ – i.e. full paid absence from work – to take care for her child. They are applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons.
Salient Features of the Act:
(i) Maternity leave available to the working women to be increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for the first two children.
(ii) Maternity leave for children beyond the first two will continue to be 12 weeks.
(iii) Maternity leave of 12 weeks to be available to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to the “commissioning mothers”. The commissioning mother has been defined as biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo planted in any other woman.
(iv) Every establishment with more than 50 employees to provide for crèche facilities for working mothers and such mothers will be permitted to make four visits during working hours to look after and feed the child in the crèche.
(v) The employer may permit a woman to work from home if it is possible to do so.
(vi) Every establishment will be required to make these benefits available to the women from the time of her appointment.
Read the Communication here.