The interpretation of "12 months preceding the expected date of delivery...." in the Act has been confusing. I have checked various case laws but nothing could be found to match the situation like this. But if you see the interpretation given in the ESI Act, it is very clear and it says that in order to be entitled to maternity leave member should have worked for at least 70 days in TWO consecutive contribution periods, ie, one year. It is possible to contribute 70 days in one contribution period but that will not make one eligible to maternity benefits under ESI. Similar application in the case of maternity leave of non ESI may lead to a conclusion that a service of 12 months is mandatory in order to be eligible for maternity leave.
Untold: 80 days service can be achieved in hardly three months from joining. You will get 26 weeks leave with pay as maternity benefit. Again it is purely personal for the woman employee to rejoin after this 26 weeks' leave. If not turned up, the employer cannot initiate any legal action nor can demand the amount back!! 24th October 2018 From India, Kannur