The Maternity Benefits Act 1961 was enacted to provide uniform standards for maternity protection. It applied in the first instance to all factories, mines and plantations except those to which the Employee’s State Insurance Act applied. This Act was amended in 1976 to extend the benefit to all women workers covered by the ESI Act.
Purposes of Maternity Benefit Act 1961
- To regulate the employment of women in certain establishments for certain specified periods before and after child birth.
- To provide for the payment of maternity benefits to women workers and
- To provide for certain benefits in case of miscarriage, premature birth or illness arising out of pregnancy.
Under this Act, a women worker can get maternity leave upto 12 weeks. Out of this 6 weeks must be prior to the delivery of the child and 6 weeks immediately thereafter. During the period of leave, the employee is entitled to full wage/salary. In addition, a medical bonus of Rs. 25 per day is payable if the employer provides no free medical care.
In order to avail of these benefits, the employee must have worked for at least 100 days in the 12 months immediately preceeding the date of expected delivery. The maternity claim will be forfeited if the employee works in any other establishment during the period of leave.