Update: it is mandatory for employers to extend the benefit of enhanced maternity leave to those workers who were already on maternity leave on the date of enforcement of the New Maternity Benefit Act,2017 wef 01.04.2017.

Frequently Asked Questions: Maternity Benefits Amendment Act 2017

Recently ministry of labour has amended Maternity Benefits Act by introducing Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act, 2017. Following changes are made with respect of Maternity benefits of working women in India:

  1. Maternity leave increased to 26 weeks from 12 weeks for working women with less than two surviving children
  2. Provisions for work from home for nursing mother- (depends on mutual consent from employee and employer)
  3. Mandatory provisions for establishments having fifty or more employees to have the facility of crèche.
  4. Extension of twelve weeks of maternity benefits to the commissioning mother and the adopting mother from the date the child is handed over.

These new changes to the maternity benefits has been came into force with effect from 01st April, 2017.

Maternity Benefits Act 2017 Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Applicability of the Act to contractual or consultant women employees?

Answer: Since there is no amendment in Sec 2 of the Act, hence the original provision will prevail. The Act is applicable to all women who are employed in any capacity directly or through any agency i.e., either on contractual or as consultant.

  1. Whether enhanced maternity benefit, as modified by the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) bill, 2016 can be extended to women who are already under maternity leave at the time of enforcement of this Amendment Act?

Answer: Yes

  1. Whether enhanced maternity benefit can be extended to those women who have joined after availing 12 weeks of the maternity leave?

Answer: those women employees who has already availed 12 weeks of maternity leave before enforcement of the Maternity Benefits (amendment) act 2017 i.e., 1st April, 2017 shall not be entitled to avail the extended benefit of the 26 weeks leave.

  1. Protection of women in case she is fired by the employer after learning her pregnancy?

Answer: Under section 12 of the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 it is emphasized that any dismissal or discharge of a women during the pregnancy is unlawful and such employer can be punished under Section 21 of the Act

  1. Whether benefits of this Act can be extended to the employed women in the unorganized Sector?

Answer: The Maternity Benefits Act is applicable to all mines, plantations, shops and establishments and factories. Mines, plantations, shop and establishments could be either in organised sector or unorganised sector.

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