Pursuant to the Official Gazette Notification of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India (the ‘Ministry’), the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 (the ‘Amendment Act’) has come into force from April 1, 2017, with the only exception being the provision relating to ‘work from home’, which will come into effect from July 1, 2017. The Amendment Act is aimed at widening the scope of maternity benefits previously available to women under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (the ‘Act’), by enhancing paid maternity leave and related benefits for women employed in any shop or commercial establishment which employs 10 or more persons, or any factory, mine or plantation.
Key highlights of the Amendment Act
Clarification on the Amendment Act
The Ministry in consultation with the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) issued certain clarifications relating to the revised provisions of the Act on April 12, 2017 (the “Clarification”). In the Clarification, the Ministry has clarified that the enhanced maternity benefits under the Amendment Act have to be provided to women who are on maternity leave as of April 1, 2017, but not to women who have already joined back work on or before March 31, 2017. It has also been clarified that the Amendment Act is applicable to women employees irrespective of whether they are on contract or working in the capacity of a consultant.
Overall, the enhanced maternity leave provisions are a laudable effort by the government to address the insufficiency of the existing maternity benefits under the Act. The Amendment Act will improve the work-life balance of approximately 1.8 million female workforce in the organized sector and have an overall positive impact on women’s participation in labour force.
However, while the Government has taken positive steps to encourage continuity of work of women post motherhood, the Amendment Act needs further clarity to allow implementation of the benefits introduced. For instance, will any monetary contribution be payable by an employee for availing the crèche facility, the distance from the work place within which the crèche facility has to be provided and the age limit of the children for whom such facility has to be provided, thus making immediate compliance of the Amendment Act practically not feasible. However, we hope that the Government soon prescribes rules under the Act, which will paint a clearer picture on these aspects.
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Last Updated on 25th January 2019