Maternity Benefit Amendment Act 2017 Explained in Layman Terms

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Maternity Benefit Amendment Act 2017 Explained

‘The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act,2017’ was recently notified by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, India. There have been some confusion in the HR fraternity due to the legal language used in the notifications.

To give you a clear picture, here’s a brief of what the the recent notification said about the Maternity Benefits:

With effect from 1st April, 2017:

  • Increase in the maternity leave from existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks for working women with less than two surviving children
  • Provision for work from home for nursing mothers
  • Mandatory provision for establishments having fifty or more employees to have the facility of creche.
  • Extension of 12 weeks of maternity benefit to the ‘commissioning mother’ and the ‘adopting mother’ from the date the child is handed over.

Post these changes were notified, questions started pouring in from everywhere. In fact, most of the HR groups on WhatsApp were also filled with questions related to the amendments in the MB Act.

Thus, the Ministry of Labour and Employment released a press note to clarify all the doubts.

Here are someone of the FAQs that you should read before approaching your HR:

  1. Who is entitled to benefit under the MB Act?
    Ans:
    (i) be employed, either directly or through any agency, for wages in the establishment to which the statute applies;
    (ii) have completed not less than 80 days of employment in the 12 months preceding her expected date of delivery in such establishment; and
    (iii) not be entitled to maternity benefit under the ESI Act.
  2. I am already on my Maternity leave, am I eligible for this benefit?
    Ans:
    Yes, the enhanced maternity benefits can be extended to women who are already on maternity leave at the time of enforcement of this Amendment Act.
  3. I recently rejoined office after completing my 12 weeks of maternity leave, am I eligible for taking the enhanced benefits based on the amendment act?
    Ans:
    No, if you have already availed your 12 weeks of maternity leave before enforcement of the Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act, 2017, i.e. 1st April, 2017, you shall not be entitled for the extended benefits of 26 weeks leave.
  4. I am on my maternity leave and looks like my employer wants to fire me. What to do?
    Ans:
    Under Section 21 of the MB Act, 1961, it is unlawful to dismiss or discharge a women during her pregnancy and your employer can be punished under Section 21 of the Act. Talk to your HR and educate him/her about the Section 21. BE FIRM.
  5. Can I work from home?
    Ans:
    If the nature of work allows a women to work from home, the employer should allow them to do so. The conditions should be mutually agreed between you and your employer.
  6. Our company’s employee strength is 25. Is it mandatory for my employer to provide creche facility?
    Ans:
    The act says that with effect from 1st July, 2017, any employer having 50 or more employees should provide creche facility. This facility can be provided by the employer individually or as a shared common facility. That said, it is mandatory for an employer to allow women employees to visit the creche four times in a day (including the interval of rest allowed to her).

Hope these FAQs give you a clear picture before approaching your employer.

Feel free to reach out to me for any further queries.

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Zafar is a right-brained HR professional with 7+ years of experience. He has innovated in the areas of HR, Employee Engagement and OD and has helped start-ups setup their HR departments right from scratch. Contact him at - reachzafarmodak@gmail.com