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The Maternity Benefit Act 1961

The maternity benefit Act 1961 protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a ‘maternity benefit’ – i.e. full paid absence from work – to take care for her child. The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons. The amendments will help 3 million (approx.) women workforce in organized sector in India.

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (MB Act) was amended by the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2016 (MB Amendment Act) which became effective on April 1st, 2017 (except for the provision that required a crèche facility to be provided by the employer, which came into effect on July 1st, 2017).

Applicability of the Act

The Act applies to:-

  • Every factory, mine or plantation (including those belonging to Government),
  • An establishment engaged in the exhibition of equestrian, acrobatic and other performances, irrespective of the number of employees, and
  • Every shop or establishment wherein 10 or more persons are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding 12 months.

The amendments to Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 are as follows

  • Increase Maternity Benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two children.
  • 12 weeks Maternity Benefit to a ‘Commissioning mother’ and ‘ Adopting mother’.
  • Facilitate ‘Work from home’.
  • Mandatory provision of Creche in respect of establishment having 50 or more employees.

Justification

  • Maternal care to the Child during early childhood – crucial for growth and development of the child.
  • The 44th, 45th and 46th Indian Labour Conference recommended enhancement of Maternity Benefits to 24 weeks.
  • Ministry of Women & Child Development proposed to enhance Maternity Benefit to 8 months.
  • In Tripartite consultations, all stake holders, in general supported the amendment proposal.

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