We are in 2020. Our style of living has been enhanced. As a result of this, the joint family has become outmoded and many opt for a nuclear family. So the young parents who have employed face challenges in taking care of their newborn and even the employed women could not enjoy the most exciting, curious, and joyous stage of their life i.e. pregnancy. This affects both new parents and the newborns. By analyzing all these aspects the government introduced the Maternity Benefit Act in 1961. This protects the right of the employed women during the pregnancy and after the childbirth.
NECESSARY FOR MATERNITY BENEFIT
The participation of women in raising the economy is undeniable. This participation will be at the fullest level only if the maternity benefit is provided. It will enhance women’s participation in the workforce. It lessens the rate of women leaving their job for taking care of their newborns. They can continue to achieve their goals.
MATERNITY BENEFIT ACT, 1961
The first act concerning maternity leave was enacted in 1961 called, “The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961”. It governs the employment of women for a certain period before and after childbirth in certain establishments. Through this act employed women get paid leave to take care of themselves and the newly born.
This act applies to government establishments, factories, mine, plantation, and establishments where people are employed for the exhibition of equestrian and acrobats.
Women are qualified for maternity leave only if they had worked for at least 80 days in the last 12 months for an establishment immediately before the date of the expected delivery.
Woman employees are entitled to payment at the rate of the average daily wage.
MATERNITY BENEFIT AMENDMENT ACT, 2017
Key amendments were made to the maternity benefit act, 1961 and it came into force on April 1, 2017. After the amendment, India became one of the reasonable providers of paid maternity leave in the world.
Following are the highlights of the amendments:
It extended the duration of paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. The extended paid maternity leave of 26 weeks is limited only up to 2 children.
Commissioning mother and a woman who adopts a child below 3 years are entitled to paid maternity leave of 12 weeks.
Crèche facility is made mandatory for every establishment employing 50 or more employees. Women employees should be allowed to visit the crèche 4 times a day.
Based on the nature of the work if a woman can work from home then the “work from home” option should be given which may benefit them after the maternity leave. There must be a mutual negotiation between employer and woman employee.
Employers must notify the women employee regarding the benefits which are entitled to them.
BENEFITS UNDER MATERNITY BENEFIT ACT
Period of leave
- For the first 2 kids, the duration of maternity leave is extended from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. This leave can be ramified into pre and post-delivery.
- For a lady having at least 2 children, the duration of maternity leave is 12 weeks.
- For adoptive mother when she adopts a child below 3 years, the period for maternity leave is 12 weeks.
- For commissioning mother, the period for maternity leave is 12 weeks.
- In the case of miscarriage, women can avail paid leave for 6 weeks.
- In the case of a post-delivery illness like premature birth of a child, miscarriage, or illness arising out of pregnancy in such cases women can avail paid leave for 1 month.
- The amount for paid maternity leave is based on the rate of the average daily wage.
- Women employees are allowed for a medical bonus.
- Crèche facility is made mandatory and women should be permitted to visit the crèche 4 times a day.
- It is illegal for the employer to remove a woman employee during her maternity leave.
- If a woman employee is removed for her misconduct during her pregnancy despite then she is entitled to maternity benefit.
- Woman need not involve in any work which is likely to affect her pregnancy or cause miscarriage or any other illness.
ISSUES INVOLVED IN MATERNITY BENEFIT ACT
- It is high time that country should acknowledge paternity leave because it is as significant as maternity leave. Both father and mother are accountable for taking care of the child.
- The employer has the ultimate burden to provide maternity pay. As a result, the recruitment of men will be more numerous than women. Consequently, there arises gender inequality in the workplace. So the most suitable solution for this predicament is the government should take responsibility and provide both paternity and maternity pay.
- This act overlooks the LGBTI community.
- Regarding the crèche facility, it requires clarity on
1. Whether it applies to both the parents?
2. What is the duration to provide a crèche facility?
3. Should employers bear the expense of setting up a crèche facility? As a result, he will not recruit woman employees. So the government has to take the burden in setting up of crèche facility.
SCHEMES SUPPORTING MATERNITY BENEFIT
A mother’s well-being is key to the progress of a good family. The Central and state has taken numerous initiatives for the well-being of pregnant women.
Some of them are:
- Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (lGMSY)
- Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)
It is applicable for pregnant women and lactating women who are above 19 years and not applicable to women working under state or central or any other private sector which comes under the maternity benefit act. Under this scheme the cash benefit of Rs.5000 is credited directly in their bank account in 3 installments if they have fulfilled the following condition:
1. Pregnancy should be registered
2. The antenatal checkup should be done
3. The birth of a child should be registered
4. The first cycle of vaccination should be completed for the first living child.
- Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY)
This centrally sponsored scheme was launched on 12th April 2005, by the Prime Minister. The intent is to reduce maternal and infant mortality by promoting institutional delivery. Eligible pregnant women are entitled to cash benefits irrespective of their age or number of children.
- Dr.Muthulakshmi Reddy Maternity Benefit Scheme (MRMBS)
This scheme was begun in 1987 by the Tamilnadu government for maternity women over 19 years of age. It is available only for the first 2 deliveries. It was named after Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy, Tamil Nadu’s first woman doctor.
Under this scheme cash aid of Rs.18000 is granted.
- Kasturba Poshan Sahay Yojana (KPSY)
It was introduced in the state of Gujarat to lessen the mortality rate due to malnutrition and anemia.
Cash aid of Rs.6000 is provided to all women below the poverty line to facilitate adequate nutrition during the pregnancy.
Shri Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister, Orissa launched this scheme on 19th October 2011 to lessen the maternal and infant mortality.
Under this scheme cash aid of Rs.5000 is given to pregnant women registered under Anganwadi centers.
MAJOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF THE WOMEN
- Article 14 – It is about legal equality
- Article 15 (i) – It says no discrimination based on race, religion, caste, sex, place of birth.
- Article 15 (3) – Special provision for children and woman.
- Article 16 – Equal opportunity in employment.
- Article 42 – Provision for generous conditions of work and maternity relief.
- Article 39(d) – Men and women get equal pay for equal work.
India has positioned in top countries which offer fair maternity benefit. It is a boon for Indian women as it protects the right of women. This paid maternity leave helps mothers to cherish their precious moments of their newborns and can take good care of them. Though it is a boon it needs clarity regarding the issues mentioned above. The government must take steps to clarify those issues so that it becomes a more flexible act for pregnant women.
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