Dear Sirs, We have some female workers in our organization. We need updated information on the scope and coverage of The maternity Benefits Act' 1961. Kindly enlighten us on the provisions of maternity benefits:

* Meaning of Maternity Benefits,
* Payable Amount of maternity Benefits,
* Process adherence for Maternity Benefit Claims,
* Payment of Maternity Benefits,
* Period of pregnancy months for which maternity benefits are to be allowed.
* Other important issues of the act.

From India
Dear friend,

Let me give you a brief, as follows, on the salient features of the Maternity Benefit Act,1961 the provisions of which are wholly in consonance with the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution of India.

1] Application: ( Sec.2)
It applies to every factory, mine or plantation including the ones belonging to Government.
It also applies to every other establishment which is recognised as such under any law pertaining to shops and establishments provided 10 or more employees are there at present or were in the past.
It is not that the 10 employees shall be women; even if there is one woman out of the 10 employees at any time, the Act becomes applicable.

2] Exception:
Establishments to which and the employees to whom the provisions of the ESI Act,1948 are applicable.

3] Beneficiary: (Sec.3(o))
Every woman employed, directly or through any agency for wages irrespective of its quantum.

4] Maternity Benefit:( Sec.3(h))
The payment mentioned u/s 5(1) of the Act based on the average salary for the period of leave of absence of 26 weeks on account of delivery of child.

5] Other Benefits:
(a) Medical Bonus ( Sec.8)
(b) Leave with wages for miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy ( Sec.9)
(c) Leave with wages for tubectomy operation (Sec.9-A)
(d) Additional leave with wages for ILLNESS arising out of pregnancy, delivery, premature birth, miscarriage, medical termination of pregnancy or tubectomy operation. ( Sec.10 )
(d) Nursing breaks (Sec.11)

6] Notice of Claim: ( Sec.6(1))
The woman should submit a notice in the prescribed form to the employer stating her maternity Benefit or any other amount entitled may be paid to her or her nominee with a declaration to the effect that she would not work in any other establishment during the benefit period.
The notice can also be given as soon as possible even after delivery.

7] Payment: ( Sec. 6(5))
The amount of benefit for the period preceding the date of expected delivery should be PAID IN ADVANCE.
The amount for the post delivery period shall be paid WITHIN 48 HOURS of production of proof of delivery by the woman.

8] Current period of maternity Benefit: (Sec.5(3))
Total 26 weeks which can be availed of in entirety after delivery or in two spells of 8 weeks before the expected date of delivery and the remaining 18 weeks after the actual date of delivery and strictly the choice is of the employee.

9] Dismissal during pregnancy: ( Sec.12)
Any time during the course of pregnancy or leave of absence, dismissal or discharge of the employee for whatever reason is illegal and cannot deprive the maternity Benefit.

10] Claims: ( Sec.12(2)(b) )
Shall be filed within 60 days from the date of cause of action to the authority concerned.

Effective from 01-04-2017, the enhanced maternity leave is applicable to the delivery of the first two surviving children. In respect of subsequent deliveries, the earlier total leave of 12 weeks is alone applicable

I think that it is better for you to go through the Act and various judgments in this regard.

From India, Salem
Dear Sir, Any statutory compliance adherence is also required. Further, what are the statutory forms which need to be submitted by the female workers to avail the benefits as well as statutory records to be maintained on the part of the employer?
From India
Dear friend,

I think that you are a HR person; even otherwise, your supplementary question gives me an impression that you need spoon-feeding.

Laws are enacted only for compliance by the people covered by them. The MBAct,1961 is a beneficial legislation to confer certain benefits to women employees during the phase of pregnancy, delivery and post-delivery child care. This is possible only when the employer is compliant to the letter and spirit of the law.

Therefore, I would reiterate my earlier suggestion that to get a clear understanding, you should go through the entire Act, its Statement of Objects and Reasons, leading case laws. Regarding functional aspects, go through the Central or State Rules as the case be. Still any doubts, please revert back to the forum.

From India, Salem

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