“Every time a woman leaves the workforce because she can’t find or afford childcare, or she can’t work out a flexible arrangement with her boss, or she has no paid maternity leave, her family’s income falls down a notch. Simultaneously, national productivity numbers decline.” – Madeleine M. Kunin
The Allahabad HC, in the case of, Saroj Kumari v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Others, held that “The provisions of the Maternity Benefit Act 1961 (Act) permit maternity benefit to a woman even after the birth of a child. The Act of 1961 was enacted to secure women’s right to pregnancy and maternity leave and to afford women with as much flexibility as possible to live an autonomous life, both as a mother and as a worker if they so desire.”
The court was hearing a petition filed by Saroj Kumari against the order passed by the District Basic Shiksha Adhikari. She was denied maternity leave and was told that she can only apply for childcare leave. She gave birth to a girl child and immediately applied for maternity leave but the same was denied on the ground that annexures in support of maternity leave were incomplete. She again applied with the prescribed proforma, which was again rejected.
Justice Ashutosh Srivastava, while describing the hardships of women stated that ” It is a harsh reality that but for such provisions many women would be compelled by social circumstances to give up work on the birth of the child if they are not granted leave and other facilitative measures. No employer can perceive childbirth as detracting from the purpose of employment. Childbirth has to be construed in the context of employment as a natural incident of life and the provisions of the Maternity Benefit Act are required to be construed in that perspective.”