Maternity leave policy in India allows a female employee to take time off work when her child is born. Over the years, the policy for maternity leave in India has strengthened. 

In this article, we have explained what is maternity leave policy in Inida and how a women can take maternity leave in India.

What Is the Rule of Maternity Leave in India?

As per the original Material leave in India policy or the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961, working women had to be paid maternity benefits. The rate for the same was their average daily wage in the three months preceding the maternity leaves. 

Under this act, female employees were entitled to only 12 weeks of maternity leave. However, this situation changed for the better in 2017. In a much-awaited decision by the Indian government, maternity leave for women increased. 

Under the new law, female employees can take up to 26 weeks of maternity leave. The prenatal leave also got increased from six to eight weeks. Moreover, non-compliance with the regulations now carries a penalty. 

That said, the new act is eligible for only those women who work in organizations with over ten workers. Let’s uncover the current maternity leave policy in India in detail. 

Eligibility for Maternity Leave as per the Act

As per the Act, some requirements to claim maternity leave in India are: 

  • The employee must have worked for at least 80 days within the last 12 months for the respective organization. 
  • The organization must comprise a minimum of ten workers. 

Standard Provisions of Maternity Leave in India

The Maternity Leave Act of 2017 establishes a period for pregnant women employees to be away from work for their benefit. It applies to premises like corporates, factories, shops, mines, plantations, and government establishments. 

Let us understand the payment provisions, time period, leaves, and benefits for maternity leave in India. 

Payment

Pregnant employees are liable for paid leave based on the average daily wage for the period of absence. They can bifurcate the leaves as post and pre-delivery. 

Maternity Leave Rules in India 

According to the 2017 Maternity Act, women are liable to 26 weeks of paid maternity leave in India. However, the number of leaves varies for women expecting their third child. The number of leaves allotted for such women is 12 weeks. 

The maternity leave in India policy is similar for adoptive mothers as well. They also get a 12-week paid leave from the day of adoption. It is applicable for babies below three years of age. 

Biological mothers who impart their egg to create an embryo, which then gets planted in another woman, are liable for 12 weeks of leave. In the case of Tubectomy (permanent contraception), a woman can opt for two weeks off from the operation. 

Maternity Leave TypeNumber of Leaves
Paid Maternity Leave Upto 2 Children12 Weeks to 26 Weeks
Prenatal Leave6 to 8 Weeks
Maternity Leave for 3rd Child12 Weeks
Maternity Leave for Child Adoption12 Weeks
Surrogate Mother12 Weeks

Maternity Benefits Rules in India

Apart from the paid leave, there are many benefits under the maternity leave in India policy. Some of the top benefits that a women employee can avail during maternity leave in India are as follows:

Businesswoman with baby

1. Choice To Work From Home 

The maternity act contains a provision that allows an employer to let a new mother work from home. However, it only applies if a person’s employment permits them to work from home. Once the maternity leave ends, the employer and employee can use this arrangement if mutually agreed. 

2. Maternity Bonus 

Breastfeeding and pregnant mothers are eligible for a minimum INR 6000 bonus under the National Food Security Act of 2013. 

3. Healthcare Incentive 

Female employees expecting a child are allowed a healthcare incentive for INR 3500. 

4. Creche Facility 

The Maternity Benefit Act of 2017 made creche facilities mandatory. However, it applies to establishments with over 50 employees. Female employees may visit this facility four times daily. 

5. Critical Illness Benefit 

Women suffering from critical circumstances like medical termination of pregnancy, miscarriage, or premature delivery, are liable to a one-month benefit. 

How To Design a Maternity Leave Policy as an HR Leader?

Female workers emphasize the maternity leave policy of the organization they plan to work with immensely. An ambiguous or incoherent maternity policy can make them apprehensive about an organization. Thus, HR managers must prepare a maternity policy that offers practical benefits and is easy to comprehend. 

Here are some essential pointers every HR leader must remember while designing a maternity leave in India policy for their organization. 

  • A company’s maternity leave in India policy must be thorough, as it is an essential document. The organization should notify a pregnant employee about her rights and their details via email. 
  • Having a ‘WFO or Work From Home’ clause in the policy document is vital. 
  • Revising the maternity leave in India policy as per government regulations is foremost. 
  • A pregnant employee should be excluded from the regular performance appraisal cycle. 

Things To Expect From Your Workplace’s Maternity Leave Policy 

Navigating pregnancy benefits can be troublesome, especially if you’re new to an organization or expecting your first child. That is why discussing the maternity leave policy beforehand with your HR can be incredibly helpful. Here are some vital aspects of the maternity leave policy which women workers should expect. 

1. Pregnancy & Family Related Benefits 

Your employer must provide benefits to you and your family during the pregnancy stage. 

2. Flexible Workload 

The workload before and after your maternity leave should be flexible. Your organization shouldn’t load you with excess work during this period. Many organizations mention this separately in their policy. 

3. Remote Work Option 

Asking if your organization offers a work-from-home option post-delivering baby is essential. Having such a policy will save you time and childcare costs. 

FAQs on Maternity Leave Policy in India

Can my employer fire me because I’m pregnant? 
No, an employer cannot do so. In fact, no employer can terminate a pregnant employee’s work contract under any circumstances. Working women need to oppose such behavior strongly. Besides, you must know your legal rights in the workplace. Any employer indulging in this behavior can be legally liable under the new maternity benefit act. 

What will happen if I don’t return to my workplace post-pregnancy? 
You are only entitled to 26 weeks of paid leave unless any complication occurs. But you won’t be liable for compensation if you don’t return to the workplace. 

Do private company pay for maternity leave?
Yes, any private company having more than 10 employers must pay maternity leave benefits to the women.

Can I take maternity leave 4 months pregnant?
As per the maternity leave ACT, an employee will be able to take maternity leave 8 weeks before the delivery. Hence, if you have more than 8 weeks for delivery, then you will be not able to take leave.

Conclusion 

Women are under immense stress after giving birth and during pregnancy. Maternity perks can help them manage their personal life and career easily. By providing maternity benefits, employers can make the pregnancy journey of their female employees secure and happier.