Maternity Benefits Act,1961

Introduction
Article 39(e) &(f) of the Constitution of India provides that the State shall, in particular,
direct its policy towards securing health and strength of workers, men, and women, and the
tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic
necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age and that children are given opportunities
and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and
that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material
abandonment.

Objective of the Act
Maternity Benefits are aimed to protect the dignity of motherhood by providing for the full
and healthy maintenance of women and her child when she is not working.

Applicability
The Maternity Benefit Act. 1961.is applicable to mines, factories Circus industry
plantations, shops and establishments employing ten or more persons It can be extended to
other establishments by the State Governments.

Appropriate Government
In relation to an establishment being a mine or an establishment wherein persons are
employed for the exhibition of housetrain acrobatic and other performances the Central
Government or any other establishment the State Government. ( Section 3(a))

Employer
Means-
• in relation to an establishment which is under the control of the government a
person or authority appointed by the government for the supervision and control of
employees or where no person or authority is so appointed the head of the
department;
• in relation to an establishment under any local authority the person appointed by
such authority for the supervision and control of employees or where no person is
so appointed the chief executive officer of the local authority.
• in any other case the person who or the authority which has the ultimate control
over the affairs of the establishment and where the said affairs and entrusted to any
other person whether called a manager managing director managing agent or by
any other name such person; ( Section 3(d))

Establishment
(i) a factory
,(ii) a mine
(iii) a plantation;
(iv) an establishment wherein persons are employed for the exhibition of equestrian
acrobatic and other performance:
(v) a shop or establishment or an establishment to which the provisions of this Act have
been declared under sub-section (1) of Section 2 to be applicable( Section 3(e)):

Wages
It means all remuneration paid or payable in cash to a woman if the terms of the contract of
employment express or implied were fulfilled and includes-
(1) such cash allowances (including dearness allowance and house rent allowances) as a
woman is for time being entitled to
(2) incentive bonus and
(3) the money value of the concessional supply of food grains and other articles.
Employment of or work by women prohibited during certain periods
Section 4 of the Act provides that no employer shall knowingly employ a woman in any
establishment during the six weeks immediately following the day of her delivery,
miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy. It also specifies that no women shall
work in any establishment during the six weeks immediately following the day of her
delivery, miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy.
It may be noted that if a pregnant women makes request to her employer, she shall not be
given to do during the period of one month immediately preceding the period of six weeks,
before the date of her expected delivery any work which is of an arduous nature or which
involves long hours of standing or which in any way is likely to interfere with her
pregnancy or the normal development of the foetus, or is likely to cause her miscarriage or
otherwise to adversely affect her death.

Right to payment of maternity benefits
Every woman shall be entitled to, and her employer shall be liable for, the payment of
maternity benefit at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of her actual absence,
that is to say, the period immediately preceding the day of her delivery, the actual day of
her delivery and any period immediately following that day. The average daily wage
means the average of the woman’s wages payable to her for the days on which she has
worked during the period of three calendar months immediately preceding the date from
which she absents herself on account of maternity, the minimum rate of wage fixed or
revised under the Minimum-Wages Act, 1948 or ten rupees, whichever is the highest. A
woman shall be entitled to maternity benefit if she has actually worked in an establishment
of the employer from whom she claims maternity benefit, for a period of not less than
eighty days in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of her expected delivery.

Notice of claim for maternity benefit
Section 6 deals with notice of claim for maternity benefit and payment thereof. As per the
section any woman employed in an establishment and entitled to maternity benefit under
the provisions of this Act may give notice in writing in prescribed form, to her employer,
stating that her maternity benefit and any other amount to which she may be entitled under
this Act may be paid to her or to such person as she may nominate in the notice and that
she will not work in any establishment during the period for which she receives maternity
benefit.
In the case of a woman who is pregnant, such notice shall state the date from which she
will be absent from work, not being a date earlier than six weeks from the date of her
expected delivery. Any woman who has not given the notice when she was pregnant may
give such notice as soon as possible after the delivery.

Recent Amendments in the Act
Increased Paid Maternity Leave:
The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act has increased the duration of paid maternity leave
available for women employees from the existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks. Under the
Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, this benefit could be availed by women for a period
extending up to a maximum of 8 weeks before the expected delivery date and the
remaining time can be availed after childbirth. For women who are having 2 or more
surviving children, the duration of paid maternity leave shall be 12 weeks (i.e. 6 weeks
before and 6 weeks after expected date of delivery).
Maternity leave for adoptive and commissioning mothers:
Maternity leave of 12 weeks to be available to mothers adopting a child below the age of
three months from the date of adoption 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.
Work from Home option:
The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act has also introduced an enabling provision relating
to “work from home” for women, which may be exercised after the expiry of the 26 weeks
leave period. Depending upon the nature of work, women employees may be able to avail
this benefit on terms that are mutually agreed with the employer.
Crèche facility
The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act makes crèche facility mandatory for every
establishment employing 50 or more employees. Women employees would be permitted to
visit the crèche 4 times during the day (including rest intervals).

Conclusion
The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act makes it mandatory for employers to educate
women about the maternity benefits available to them at the time of their appointment.

References

1- Industrial Labour and General Laws by The Institute of Company Secretaries Of India

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