Maternity Benefit Act 1961
Maternity Benefit Act 1961 was enacted to have uniform maternity benefit provisions for all women employees. The ESI Act, 1948, though provided for maternity benefits but the Act did not cover all women workers. This Act covers all women employees not covered by the ESI Act.
OBJECT: (1) to provide for maternity benefit to women employees; and (2) to regulate the employment of women for certain periods before and after childbirth.
The Maternity Benefit Act 1961 does not apply to any factory or establishment to which the ESI Act is applicable.
Restriction on employment of women: Sec. 4:
- Employer is prohibited from knowingly employing a woman during six the weeks immediately following the day of her delivery, miscarriage, or medical termination of pregnancy.
- A woman also on her part shall not work during the period of six weeks as above.
- A pregnant woman can request the employer not to give her any work which is of arduous nature or which involves long hours of standing, likely to interfere with the pregnancy or the normal development of the foetus or is likely to cause miscarriage or otherwise adversely affect her health, during the period of one month immediately preceding the period of six weeks, before the date of her expected delivery or during the six weeks period for which the pregnant woman though entitled, does not avail the leave of absence. On such a request, the employer shall not give her such work during the period as above.
Period for which a woman is entitled to maternity benefit and the nature of benefit OR Right to payment of maternity benefit: Sec. 5 and 18:
- Maximum period a woman is entitled to maternity benefit shall be 12 weeks of which up to 6 weeks shall be before the date of her expected delivery.
- If the woman dies during this period, the maternity benefit shall be payable only for the days up to and including the day of her death.
- If the woman, having delivered a child, dies during the period for which she is entitled for the maternity benefit, leaving behind the child, the employer shall pay the maternity benefit for the entire period. If the child also dies during the said period, then the payment shall be made up to the date of the death of the child.
- A woman shall not be entitled to MB unless she has actually worked in the establishment for a period of not less than 80 days in the 12 months immediately preceding the date of her expected date of delivery.
- When calculating the number of days a woman has actually worked, the days of lay-off or leave with wages shall be included.
- A woman shall be entitled to the payment of MB at the rate of average daily wage for the period of her actual absence (maximum 12 weeks), or the rate fixed under the Minimum Wages Act or Rs. 10/- per day whichever is higher.
- The average daily wage means average of the last 3 calendar months immediately preceding the date from which she goes on leave on account of maternity.
- A woman, who goes on maternity leave, but she works in any other establishment during the period of such leave, shall forfeit her claim to MB for such period.
Sec. 8 Rule 5: A woman who is entitled to MB shall also be entitled to receive from the employer a medical bonus of Rs. 250/- if the employer provides for no pre-natal confinement and post-natal care free of charge. Medical bonus shall be paid along with the second installment of the MB.
Leave for illness concerning childbirth
sec. 10: A woman suffering from illness arising out of pregnancy, delivery, premature child birth, miscarriage, medical termination of pregnancy or tubectomy operation shall be entitled to an additional leave with wages at the rate of MB for a maximum period of one month.
Sec. 11: A woman who returns to duty after delivery shall be allowed two additional breaks for nursing the child until the child attains age of 15 months.
Leave for Tubectomy operation
Sec. 9-A: A woman who undergoes the operation shall, on production of the required proof, be entitled to leave with wages at the rate of MB for a period of two weeks following the day of her operation.
Penalty for contravention by the employer
- Employer who fails to pay MB, or discharges or dismisses a woman during her maternity leave, he shall be punishable with imprisonment of minimum 3 months, maximum up to one year, and fine of not less than Rs. 2000/- but maximum up to Rs. 5000/-. If there are sufficient reasons, the court may impose a sentence of lesser term or fine only in lieu of imprisonment.
- Any other contravention – imprisonment up to one year; fine up to Rs. 5000/- or both.
Cognizance of an offence: Sec. 23:
- An aggrieved woman, an office-bearer of a registered trade union of which the woman is a member or a registered voluntary organization or an Inspector may file a complaint regarding the commission of an offence under the Maternity Benefit Act 1961.
- No complaint shall be filed after the expiry of one year from the date of the alleged offence.
- No court inferior to the court of Metropolitan Magistrate or a Magistrate of the First Class shall try an offence under this Maternity Benefit Act 1961.