The government earlier decided to increase wage limit for ESI to Rs 21000 with effect from 01st January 2017. Which brought a lot of employees to the coverage of ESI. Most of the employers are denying the Maternity benefits stating, ESI will provide the same to those who are covered under ESI. But little-known fact that employer will be held responsible to provide maternity benefits to those employees who are recently covered and yet to get benefits from ESI. Eligibility condition will be same as stated in the Maternity Benefits Act 1961
Eligibility of insured woman to claim maternity benefit under ESI Act is determined by the provisions contained in sub-rule (1) of Rule 56 of the ESI (Central) Rules, 1950 which says that “an insured woman shall be qualified to claim maternity benefit for a confinement occurring or expected to occur in a benefit period, if the contributions in respect of her were payable for not less than seventy days in the immediately preceding two consecutive one or two contribution periods”.
Where the IW is unable to satisfy the contributory condition as stated in the preceding paragraph, she will not be paid any maternity benefit by the Corporation. However, she can perhaps still be helped and guided to receive it from her employer under Section 5A of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, which states as under 5A:
Every woman entitled to the payment of maternity benefit under this Act shall, notwithstanding the application of the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 (34 of 1948), to the factory or other establishment in which she is employed, continue to be so entitled until she becomes qualified to claim maternity benefit under Section 50TP PT of that Act. (now Central Rule 56).
The said Act, under section 2(2) thereof, is normally not applicable to a factory/establishment to which the ESI Act applies, but an exception has been made in a case of a woman falling under section 5A quoted above. Under section 5(2) of the said Act, a woman worker becomes entitled to payment of maternity benefit if she has worked in an establishment covered by that Act for a period of 70 days in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of her expected delivery. The period of 70 days is made up of days on which she actually worked, the days of lay off and paid holidays during the said period of twelve months.