Maternity Benefit (Amendment Act) , 2017 receives Presidential assent
In a Corrigendum issued by the Ministry of Labour and Employment (“Ministry”) on 3rd April, 2017, the Ministry has rectified the earlier notification S.O. 1026(E) dated 31st March, 2017(reported in the trail mail) stating that Section 4 (1) of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 (“Amendment Act”) will come into effect from 1st July,2017 and not the provision w.r.t the option to work from home [Section 3(5)].
Section 4(1) of the (“Amendment Act”) reads as follows:
(1) Every establishment having fifty or more employees shall have the facility of créche within such distance as may be prescribed, either separately or along with common facilities:
Provided that the employer shall allow four visits a day to the creche by the woman, which shall also include the interval for rest allowed to her.”
Hence, the option to work from home [Section 3(5)] is effective since 1st April, 2017. The requirement to have the crèche facility will be effective from 1st July, 2017.
The Indian Labour Conference (“ILC”) in its 44th, 45th and 46th Session had recommended enhancing the maternity leave under the Act from existing 12 weeks to 24 weeks. The Ministry of Women and Child Development and other stakeholders had also insisted in enhancing the maternity benefit under the Act.
Basis the recommendations of the ILC and in the wake of several requests from stakeholders, the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha had passed the Bill.
The Lok Sabha has passed the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 on 9th March, 2017. The Bill had already been passed by the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session on 11th August, 2016. With this, the Bill stands passed in the Parliament.
Highlights of the Amendment Act:
- Increase in the duration of maternity leave to 26 weeks:
The Amendment Bill increases the maternity leave benefit to a period of 26 weeks. The maternity benefit should not be availed before eight weeks from the date of expected delivery.
Prior to this, woman were entitled to maternity leave benefit of 12 weeks only of which not more than six weeks should precede the date of her expected delivery.
- Maternity leave of 12 weeks for mother/s who are adopting or commissioning mothers
In terms of the Amendment Bill even a woman who legally adopts a child below the age of 3 months or a commissioning mother will be entitled to maternity benefit for a period of 12 weeks. The 12-week period of maternity benefit will be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the adopting or commissioning mother.
This benefit has been introduced for the first time for adopting and commissioning mother/s.
- Option to work from home:
After availing the maternity leave benefit, an employer may allow a woman to work from home, if the nature of work assigned to her is such that she may work from home. The terms, conditions and duration for the work from home arrangement would be as per the mutual agreement between the employer and the woman.
The Act does not provide for an option to work from home.
- Crèche facility:
Upon having 50 or more employees, every establishment is required to have the facility of crèche within such distance as may be prescribed, either separately or along with common facilities. The employer is required to allow four visits a day to the crèche by the woman, which will also include the interval for rest allowed to her.
This is a new requirement. Under the provisions of the Act there is no requirement to provide for a crèche facility on the part of the employer.
- Awareness about maternity benefits:
Every establishment is required to intimate in writing and electronically to every woman at the time of her initial appointment regarding every benefit available under the Act.
The Act is silent on these aspects.
- For the first time, the role of a “commissioning mother” has been recognized and defined. A commissioning mother means “a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in any other woman”. Prior to this, the Act did not recognize the role of a commissioning mother.
- For woman who have two or more surviving children, the maternity benefit will continue to be 12 weeks, which cannot be availed before six weeks from the date of the expected delivery.
Source: Ministry of Law and Justice