Madhu.T.K
Industrial Relations And Labour Laws

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Hi, I am working as manager HR in a price firm. Currently on maternity leave was supposed to join back in mid feb. However got a call from management to look for other options as company is going through a rough patch so i will be laid off. This is so traumatic. Please let me know what are my options
I believe by lay off you mean to say termination and not that there is temporary closure of an operation due to non availability of material or power etc.
As per Maternity Benefits Act an employee under maternity leave is eligible to salary for the whole 26 weeks. If the organisation to unable to pay the salary due to financial crisis,the same should be addressed as an industrial dispute for non payment of salary following section 15 of the Payment of Wages Act. It is true that discharge of a pregnant woman employee or employee undergoing maternity leave is illegal as per Maternity Benefits Act.
Since you have received only a verbal call saying that you have to find alternative, you may not get salary this month. Once you complete the leave and rejoin in February,they may issue a letter terminating your service. That the company can do following the relevant provisions of Industrial Disputes Act. Only thing is that they cannot pick and chose to terminate but it should be the last employee taken in the department to do similar work who should be terminated first. Even in this process non payment of salary payable during your maternity leave period will be maintainable.
If you have been working in managerial capacity (being an HR Manager you should be) you will not get any protection of ID Act against termination of employment. However, you can put a claim for unpaid of salary during the maternity leave period.

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