Maternity Benefit Act, Employer Compliance under the maternity benefit Act, Maternity Benefits Amendment Act, 2017, Maternity Benefits, Ebizfiling

Employer Compliances under the Maternity Benefits Act

Introduction

The Indian Constitution mandates gender equality in the workplace, but it is not practically implemented because the majority of women are obliged to leave their occupations in order to have children and take care of them before and after birth. To remedy this issue, the government passed the Maternity Benefit Act, which every employer is required to abide by. However, many firms face retaliatory actions if they do not adhere to this Act’s requirements. This article describes employer compliance under the Maternity Benefit Act to assist employers in comprehending the appropriate compliance criteria and avoiding any fines resulting from non-compliance.

Insights on Maternity Benefits

During pregnancy or after giving birth, a woman is entitled to benefits from her work. The Maternity Benefit Act governs the provisions about maternity benefits, which include paid leave, medical bonuses, and nursing breaks. Every employer is required to abide by the rules set forth in this Act. In the first six weeks following a woman’s delivery, the employer is not permitted to hire any women in the establishment, and no women are permitted to work in any establishment during this time. A pregnant woman is allowed to take 26 weeks of maternity leave. In the case of miscarriage & termination of pregnancy, a woman can take up to 6 weeks of leave, but she has to show proof of miscarriage, and the leave period starts from the miscarriage date.

Maternity Benefits Amendment Act, 2017

The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act went into effect on April 3, 2017, in order to encourage women’s labor force participation, maintain a work-life balance in the organizational sector, and protect the employment of expectant mothers. The following are the major employer compliance requirements under the amended Act:

  • The act has increased the length of maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, in which women can take 8 weeks before the date of delivery and 18 weeks after the delivery. The 26 weeks leave is applied to women for first and second children only, for third or subsequent children the act allows leave for 12 weeks.
  • If a woman legally adopts a child under the age of three months, the commissioning or adopting mother is entitled to maternity benefits for a period of 12 weeks from the date the child is given to the commissioning or adopting mother, as the case may be.
  • The amendment states that every employer must allow women to work from home if the nature of the work requires it in order for the woman and the employer to take advantage of the maternity benefit for the period and under the conditions mutually agreed upon by the woman and the employer.
  • Businesses with 50 or more employees must have nearby daycare services accessible to them. Employers should provide the opportunity for mothers to visit the childcare facility up to four times a day, ensuring they can make the most of their downtime.
  • The Maternity Benefits Amendment Act also allows for maternity benefit education.

How do I apply for maternity leave?

There are 2 ways to apply for maternity leave, which are:

  1. Pregnant women have the right to inform their employer in writing about their intention to take maternity leave and receive salary payments during this period. She must specify the exact date on which they will be absent from work.
  2. Another option available for pregnant employees is to notify the human resources department or submit a request for maternity leave through their company’s online portal. This allows them to officially apply for the leave and ensure that the necessary arrangements are made.

What is the applicability and eligibility of the Maternity Benefit Act?

The Maternity Benefit Act applies to women employed in both public and private sector organizations, including private companies, government jobs, mines, plantations, factories, and organizations with a workforce of 10 or more employees. However, it does not extend to women working in organizations with less than 10 employees or self-employed women. To be eligible for maternity leave under the Act, a woman must have worked with the employer for a minimum of 80 days within the 12 months leading up to her expected delivery date.

Employer Compliances under the Maternity Benefits Act

The employer’s adherence to the payment of maternity benefits is re-enlisted below:

  • Maternity leave is mandatory for every employer, and they must pay the average daily wage for the duration of the absence. However, if a woman hasn’t worked in the employer’s establishment for 80 days within the 12 months before her expected delivery date, the payment obligation is waived.
  • Employers are prohibited from hiring a woman for a period of six weeks immediately following her delivery or miscarriage.
  • The above-mentioned period does not apply to a woman who immigrated from Assam and was pregnant at the time of her departure.
  • In the case of a woman’s death during or after childbirth, the employer is obligated to provide maternity benefits for the entire duration. However, if both the mother and child pass away during this period, the payment should also cover the date of the child’s death.
  • Every employer is only required to pay benefits for the days leading up to and including the day of her death.
  • Employers must provide childcare facilities and reinstate the woman to her previous position in the organization upon her return from maternity leave.
  • Pregnant employees are entitled to certain workplace amenities, such as hygienic restrooms, comfortable working and seating arrangements, and safe drinking water.
  • Employers are not allowed to assign pregnant women difficult tasks or long working hours within 10 weeks before the expected delivery date to ensure the safety and health of both the mother and child.

Penalties for Non-Compliance with Laws

  • Penalty for interference in the work of Inspector

Any person who refuses to produce the required record of registers and prevents or conceals any person from appearing or being examined by the inspector will face imprisonment for up to three months, a fine of up to five hundred rupees, or both.

  • Penalty for employers who violate the Act

In the event that the employer violates the provisions of the Act, he may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to three months, a fine of 500 rupees, or both. If there is a violation involving benefits, their payment, or any other payment related to the same, and the amount has not already been recovered, the court has the authority to recover the amount of such maternity benefits or the amount as a fine and pay it to the entitled person.

Bottom Line

Employer compliance under the Maternity Benefit Act can benefit both the employer and the working women by assisting the employer in avoiding the risks and penalties associated with non-compliance, as well as providing job security and work-life balance for pregnant working women. Work from home, creche facilities, payment of maternity benefits, leaves, and other relevant provisions aid in the development of a solid culture for individuals in society.

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Author: zarana-mehta

Zarana Mehta is an MBA in Finance from Gujarat Technology University. Though having a masters degree in Business Administration, her upbeat and optimistic approach for changes led her to pursue her passion i.e. Creative writing. She is currently working as Content Writer at Ebizfiling.

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