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The Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 aims at regulating employment of women employees all over the country. The act provides 12 weeks as the maximum period for which any working woman shall be entitled to maternity benefit. She can avail this benefit as 6 weeks up to and including the day of her delivery and 6 weeks immediately following the day of her delivery.
The Act applies to:
The Act lays down that any women employed, whether directly or through any agency, for wages in any establishment is eligible to claim maternity benefits if she is expecting a child and has worked for her employer for at least 80 days in the 12 months immediately preceding the date of her expected delivery. (Section 5)
A woman looking forward to maternity benefits could ask the employer to give her light work for a month. Such request should be made atleast 10 weeks before the date of her expected delivery. At that time she needs to produce a certificate confirming her pregnancy.
Also she needs to give a written notice to the employer about 7 weeks before the date of her delivery regarding her absence period pre and post delivery.
Leave with wages at the rate of maternity benefit, for a period of 6 weeks for miscarriage and 2 weeks for tubectomy operation.
A woman suffering from illness on account of miscarriage, medical termination of pregnancy, delivery, premature birth is entitled for further leave for 1 month in addition to the leave with wages at the rate of maternity benefit.
The Act prohibits an employer from knowingly employing a woman, or any women from working, 6 weeks immediately following the day of her delivery or miscarriage.
The Act prohibits dismissal or discharge or variation in conditions of service to the disadvantage of any pregnant women, while she is absent due to reason under the Act.
She can claim maternity benefit or medical bonus, even if discharged or dismissed during pregnancy. This shall not be applicable in case of dismissal for gross misconduct.
In such case, the maternity benefit shall be paid only for the days up to and including the day of death.
The employer should pay such benefit or amount to the person nominated by the woman and in case there is no such nominee, then her legal representative.
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