Maternity is natural and divine. In India, the underlying objective of the Maternity Benefit Act; is to give honour to the divine act of birth with utmost care and dignity. And, this can be done by regulating the employment of woman in certain establishments for a certain period.

 This Act provides to a woman leaves with full pay and benefits to the extent of 26 weeks; in her maternity period. The Act is applicable to all the establishments employing 10 or more employees. This include factories, mines, plantations, Central and State governments, shops, and local bodies. Any woman who has been working as an employee in the establishment for a period of at least 80 days within the past 12 months can claim the benefits under this Act.

Benefits under this Act.

Maternity Benefit Act originally provided for paid maternity leave. The Maternity Benefit are as under:   

  1. A total of 26 weeks paid maternity leave to a woman working in the establishment .
  2. Paid maternity leave with average pay for a maximum of  8 weeks before the delivery.
  3. A woman can take the rest of the Leave with average pay taken after the delivery.
  4. For women who have 2 or more surviving children, they can avail the maternity leaves for period of 12 weeks i.e. 6 weeks before and 6 weeks after the date of delivery.
  5. Womens  also have right to claim medical bonus under this Act.
  6. 12 weeks maternity leave to be available to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as the “commissioning mothers” from the date of adoption .
  7. The law permits six weeks’ leave in case of miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy.
  8. For establishments with more than 50 workers, it has made it mandatory  to establish creches.
  9. Mothers can visit the creches up to 4 times a day and to 2 nursing breaks per day until the child attains the age of 15 months.
  10. Provisions for the grant of light work for pregnant women 10 weeks .
  11. The central government has powers under this act to make rules for enforcing the provisions of the Act.

Many more


Considering the current situation of COVID-19, emphasis may be laid on the Amendment Act 2017; wherein it has introduced an enabling provision relating to “Work from Home” for women, which may be exercised after the expiry of the 26 weeks’ leave period. Depending upon the nature of work, women employees may be able to avail this benefit on terms that are mutually agreed with the employer.

Critical issue: Dismissal during maternity leave

It has been observed that employers have adopted the process of dismissing the services of an expectant woman employee either prior to availing the maternity leave or during the leave- this is strictly prohibited under Section 12 of the Act. It clearly restricts the employer from the dismissal of a woman during absence or pregnancy or to give notice of termination of her services during or on account of such absence.


 The woman who is sufferer can sue or take actions under this Act; within one year from the date on which the offence is committed.

Related Case Study

In a recent judgement pronounced on 01/05/2020 in Manisha Priyadarshini versus Aurobindo College-Evening & Ors, while dealing with an issue of non-renewal of contract of the Appellant who was on maternity leave and whose contract expired during Covid-19, the Delhi High Court has quashed the termination order dated 29.05.2019, issued by the College and also directed the college to appoint the appellant/petitioner forthwith to the post of Assistant Professor in the English Department on an ad-hoc basis till such time that the vacant posts are filled up through regular appointment.

Therefore, although the courts have been quick to address issues of maternity benefits and take strict action against employers found in violation of the Act, it is important to seek appropriate legal advice to fully understand the scope of the Act and your rights to avail the benefits under the Act.

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