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Maternity Leave in India

Maternity Leave in India


Every new mother wants to treasure the experience of going from being pregnant to becoming a mother. But what about soon-to-be mothers who are looking forward to beginning their journey of motherhood and are employed? Our Indian culture is deeply established with regard to the assistance that Indian moms receive both before and after they deliver a child. Consequently, it becomes reasonable to place the same emphasis on parenting at work. Only the Maternity Benefit Act, approved by the Indian government, makes it feasible for expectant women to prioritize their families and take time off from work in the form of maternity leave.

Working women can make use of maternity leave, which is a period of absence from work that is sanctioned before and/or after childbirth. The laws governing maternity leave in India are outlined in the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961. Women who meet the requirements for maternity leave and who work for accredited companies or factories may apply for up to six months of leave under this Maternity Act. Maternity leaves can be used by female employees before or after childbirth. Their maternity leave may extend into the time before and following birth. The woman’s employer is compelled to pay her the full amount of her wages during this absence.

Employers may offer additional maternity leave to their female employees in addition to the statutory maternity leave laws in India. To secure and defend the rights of female employees, the Maternity Benefit Act has undergone several amendments. This Act, which was most recently revised in 2017, includes remote or hybrid employment types in addition to giving new moms more paid time off. 

The Maternity Benefit Act in India assists mothers both before and after childbirth. It ensures and defends their livelihood and interests while enabling them to care for their infants and themselves.


Because of their innate incompetence, women have been stigmatized for having to take maternity leave. This is because they must take time off both before and after the birth of their child. If an employee’s pregnancy interfered with their capacity to perform their job duties or they felt that maternity leave was necessary, employees used to terminate the woman who was pregnant. As a result, they would take unpaid time off to avoid being fired. Women in physically demanding or labour-intensive occupations occasionally had to work longer hours to make up for being pregnant or taking maternity leave, which was bad for the health of both the mother and the child.


The Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 is a law that protects pregnant female employees’ entitlement to employment. It is acknowledged as a helpful piece of law, and its goal is to guarantee the working woman’s security of tenure. It grants female workers the right to maternity benefits, including fully compensated wages for whatever period they miss working to care for a child. The Act applies to all businesses with ten or more employees. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha both passed the Maternity (Amendment) Bill 2017 on March 9 and August 11, respectively. In addition, the Indian President provided his consent on March 27, 2017. It should be emphasized that, with the exception of Sections 5A and 5B, this legislation does not apply to women who are eligible for benefits under the Employees’ State Insurance legislation of 1948.


  • To control the hiring of women in certain workplaces at a specific time before and after delivery; and
  • To finance maternity benefits and a few other things.

“The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 aims to provide all the facilities to a working woman in a dignified manner so that she may overcome the state of motherhood honourably, peaceably, and undeterred by the fear, of being victimised for forced absence during the pre- or post-natal period,” the Supreme Court stated in Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Female Workers (Master Roll).

The maternity benefit Act of 1961 accords with the directive principles of state policy contained in Part IV of the Indian Constitution. Article 39 declares:

  • Men and women in the community have an equal right to a sufficient means of livelihood; and
  • Men and women receive equal remuneration for equivalent labour;

In addition, Article 42 of the Indian Constitution requires the government to establish policies for fair and compassionate working conditions, such as maternity leave.


1. Section 12 does not permit dismissal during a pregnancy-related absence

The following actions are forbidden by the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 when a female employee is absent from work:

  • Discharge or dismiss her while she is absent or as a result of her absence; or Send notice of discharge or dismissal prior to the day it will expire while she is absent; or 
  • To alter any of the conditions of her service to her disadvantage
2. In some circumstances, Section 13 does not allow for wage deductions:

If a woman is allocated lighter work during a certain stage of pregnancy or pauses to care for her infant, her income shouldn’t be reduced in any way.

3. Power and accountability of inspectors

Sections 15 and 17 of the Act provide the inspector specific power and accountability for the administration of the Act. According to section 15, an inspector may utilise any or all of the following powers, subject to any restrictions or limitations imposed: To visit the property at any reasonable hours; To examine individuals engaged in the establishment;

  • To ask the employer for information;
  • To duplicate any alerts, materials, or components thereof that have been registered.

The Inspector’s ability to direct payments to female workers is covered in Section 17. An inspector may conduct an investigation independently or in response to a grievance brought out by a disgruntled employee. After investigating the claim, the inspector may demand that the employer pay the employee back if it is shown to be accurate. Within 30 days of obtaining notice of the inspector’s judgement, the employee may appeal the decision to the proper authorities if they are not happy with it.

4. Penalties for employers who violate the Act under Section 21

The employer shall be penalised in accordance with the Act’s provisions if he is unable to provide any maternity allowance or if he dismisses or discharges the woman while she is on maternity leave or as a result of her absence. He will receive a two thousand rupee fine, which may be increased to five thousand rupees, and a three-month sentence, which can be extended to a year. An employer who disobeys the provisions of this Act or the rules made under it may be penalised by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to 5,000 rupees, or both:


The Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) is a government programme that provides cash incentives to pregnant women and nursing mothers in the amount of Rs. 5000 across three instalments.

Janani Suraksha Yojana:  The National Health Mission runs the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), which promotes healthy pregnancy. Its goal is to increase institutional delivery rates among pregnant low-income women in order to reduce maternal and newborn mortality.

The Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan The Government of India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has introduced the Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan. On the ninth of every month, the programme aims to provide thorough, complete, and high-quality primary care without charge to all pregnant women. The PMSMA ensures that government-approved healthcare institutions provide women in their second and third trimesters of pregnancy with a minimal set of prenatal care amenities.


A woman reincarnates as a mother upon giving birth to a kid. The mother and the infant both require care and attention during this time. It is a time of need that calls for stress-free love and care. Working moms who want to care for their children and maintain stress-free lives may do so thanks to the Maternity Benefit Act of 1956. It guarantees work stability and stipulates that employers cannot fire or demote expectant or nursing mothers while they are on maternity leave. Furthermore, the advantages made available by the statute are offered to women regardless of their marital status. The Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 has undergone a significant modification as a result of the 2017 revision. In order to provide adoptive and commissioning moms adequate time to be with and care for their children, it has created the crèche facility and leaves. The work-from-home option has also been provided, which is a necessary development for the modern world. The employment department must, however, take into account a few loopholes.

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