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FEATURES OF THE MATERNITY BENEFIT ACT 1961

Author: P. Ishwarya, IV year of B.A.,LL.B from The Central Law College.


Introduction

The maternity benefit Act is social legislation enacted by the parliament in 1961. The purpose of the Act is to provide maternity benefits to the women working in the establishments.


Features of the Act

1. This Act contains 30 sections.

2. It provides leave with wages for miscarriage and tubectomy operations.

3. section 5 talks about the duty of the employer regards maternity benefits.

4. section 12 of the act prohibits the employer to dismiss pregnant women.

5. No deduction of wages under section 13.

6. The Creche facility was introduced in the 2017 amendment by the parliament of India.

7. section 11 of the Act deals with Nursing breaks for women who return to the work after their delivery.

8. section 14 talks about the Appointment of inspectors.



Applicability of the Act

This act applies to the establishments employing ten or more persons on any day of the preceding twelve months.


Benefits are given under the Act

  1. Section 4:

This section restricts the employer to employ women for six weeks immediately on the day of her delivery.


The work which contains arduous nature and long hours of standing should be avoided for a certain period.


2. Section 5:

Every woman employee has the right to receive maternity benefits under the act and these benefits were given by the employer of the establishments.


To claim these benefits she must work for eighty days in the twelve months before the date of her delivery. The period of eighty days includes laid off or any other holidays.


In the 2017 amendment, maternity leave was increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.


If the woman has more than two children, she is entitled to get maternity leave for 12 weeks


In case of an adopted child, the maternity leave is given up to 12 weeks.


This section also provides an option for women to work from home.

3. section 7

If the woman dies before receiving maternity benefits under the Act, the employer should give such benefits to the person nominated in the notice. If a nominee is not mentioned, the benefits may be given to her legal representatives.


4. section 8 talks about medical bonus

The medical bonus of rupees one thousand is also given to the maternity woman by the employer.


The amount of medical bonus may be changed every three years by the central government.

5. section 9 of the act deals with leave for miscarriage.

In the case of miscarriage or medical termination, women have the right to get leave with wages for six weeks.

6. section 9A

women have the right to get leave with wages for two weeks after their tubectomy operation.

7. section 10

If illness arises because of pregnancy, delivery and premature birth of a child the woman is right to get leave with wages for an additional period of one month.

8. section 11 talks about nursing breaks for women who return to the work after their delivery.


Intervals should be given to the employees working in the establishments. The women who return to the work after giving birth to the child have the right to get an extra two breaks until the child attains the age of 15 months.


9. section 11A

If the establishments have more than fifty employees, should establish a creche facility. The employee has the right to visit the creche four times a day.


The employer’s duty is to intimate benefits which were given under the act to the woman, through writing and electronic mode at the time of her appointment.


10. section 12

This section prohibits the employer to dismiss or discharge women employees from work following the provision of the act.


11. section 13 of the act says the employer shall not deduct wages from certain cases.


12. section 14 talks about the appointment of an inspector


The inspector may appoint by the appropriate government by giving notification in their official gazette.


13. section 15 deals with the powers and duties of inspectors

The inspector has the power to enter any establishments to examine registers, records and documents. He also has the power to take copies of such records, registers and documents.


14. section 16

As per section 21 of the Indian penal code, the inspector mentioned under this act is considered as a public servant.


15. section 21 talks about the punishment for contravention of the Act by the employer.

If the maternity benefits were not given to the employee, the employer shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not less than 3 months which may extend up to one year and the fine amount which may extend up to five thousand rupees.



Suggestions

The amount of the medical bonus needs to be amended.

For speedy justice, the cases may be tried through alternative dispute resolution.



Conclusion

The maternity benefits legislation gives support and security to the working woman. Giving birth and taking care of a child is considered as a fundamental right of women and children. It cannot be taken away by anyone.

Reference

[i] https://labour.gov.in.

[ii] https://www.simpliance.in.