Maternity Benefit Rules In India: Saviour of Life and Job of Many Women

Maternity leave is an essential benefit for women employees, especially those who will be mothers. It protects the rights of women employees at the time of pregnancy. Maternity benefit provides them with paid leave to give them a break from work. It also protects the job of women. At the time of this leave period, according to maternity leave rules in India, a woman cannot be dismissed from her job during maternity leave. The maternity leave rule in India is reformed from time to time, seeking the requirements of society.

Meaning of Maternity Leave

Maternity leave is when a woman leaves her job during and after pregnancy. This leaving of job is temporary. It is a paid leave from work provided to women employees to take care of newly born and retain their job during pregnancy.

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961

The act gets enforced on 12th December 1961. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 regulates women’s employment in establishments for a specific time before and after the child’s birth. It also provides the maternity leave rules and extends to India.

The act provides women’s rights during pregnancy and after giving birth to the child. The act also provides the maternity leave rules and the conditions to be fulfilled to get the maternity benefit.

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 was amended in the year 2017. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, was passed to increase the period of paid leave granted. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act of 2017 has increased the 12 weeks paid leave to 26 weeks to take care of the child younger than three months.

Application of Maternity Benefit Act, 1961

Section 2(1) of the Maternity Benefit Act,1961 or the Maternity Leave Act applies to establishments, including a factory, a mine, a plantation, a shop, or a place where a person gets employed for exhibition acrobatic and other performances. It also applies to a government establishment.


The most important condition is to be eligible to get a paid maternity leave or any other benefit provided by the act only if she has completed the 80 days in the current establishment and completed in the past 12 months.


Paid leave of the women on maternity leave is calculated based on the average daily wage. As per the Maternity leave rules, maternity leave is increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks after the amendment act of 2017.

Norms under the maternity leave rules

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, provides the employer’s maternity leave rules to be followed. The rules are as follows:

  • According to the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, an employer should not give any difficult task to pregnant women. Accordingly, a pregnant woman should not get a task that includes long working hours ten weeks before the delivery as this might affect both mother and the child.
  • The employer must ensure the health and safety of the female employee. Also, the employer should ensure that the pregnant woman is not given any task six months after the delivery and miscarriage.
  • According to law, a female employee cannot be dismissed or discharged during maternity leave.
  • When the establishment employs more than fifty employees, the employer has to provide a Creche facility. It gets done so that the female employee can avail the facility once she is back from her maternity leave period. According to the maternity leave rules, the female employee can visit the creche four times during regular working hours in a day, including the rest intervals.
  • If an employer does not adhere to the Maternity Leave Rules provided Maternity Benefit Act, they must face severe repercussions. If an employer does not comply with the act’s provisions, he/she is liable to pay a fine of Rs. 5000/- and can also be punished with one-year imprisonment or both.

Maternity leave rule for adoptive mothers

According to the law, an adoptive mother has the right to take maternity leave for 12 weeks. This leave period is applicable from the date of adoption. This maternity leave rule of adoption is applied only when the child is below three months.

Employers dilemma with the maternity leave

The Maternity Leave Rules in India have increased the comforts of working women. It also helped women think about their careers and work and have a family. But the employer has other concerns. Concerns of the employer are:

  1. Maternity Leave cost in India has to be borne by the employer.
  2. The employer has to bear the cost other than the maternity leave cost. The employer has to have additional staff in place of the women employee. The training of the temporary employee is an added expense for the employer.
  3. The employer has to provide a creche facility when more than fifty employees in an organisation. It adds an extra cost to develop infrastructure. Also, trained staff is required to handle the creche. All this additional cost is to be borne by the employer.


The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 has strengthened the country’s working women. The act provides the benefits that a woman has at the time of her pregnancy on the one hand. And on the other hand, the act also provides the maternity leave rules and other general rules to be followed by the employer. The laws and regulations framed under this act have increased the number of working women in India.

There was a time when a woman had to choose between her career and her family, but this has changed now. Nowadays, women can easily focus on their careers and family planning. The major benefit that this act has provided is paid maternity leave for 26 weeks. According to the Act, the woman does not have to fear for her job and can focus on her health. The maternity leave rules are strict enough to make employers follow them.

FAQs on maternity leave rules in India

What is the eligibility condition for a woman to be able to benefit from maternity leave?

According to the Maternity leave rules, a woman has to work in an establishment for a minimum of 80 days in the last twelve months to benefit from maternity leave.

What is the time for maternity leave to be granted to a woman?

A pregnant woman has the right to get 26 weeks of paid leave as per the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017.

What is the amount of fine that an employer is liable to pay if he does not comply with maternity leave rules?

If an employer does not comply with the maternity leave rules, he is liable to pay a fine of Rs. 5000/-.

For how much time an adoptive mother can receive the maternity leave benefit?

An adoptive mother has the right to receive maternity benefits for twelve weeks.

About Author

Anshita Surana, born in the year 1999 in Guwahati, Assam and brought up in Hanumangarh, Rajasthan, where I completed my elementary and secondary education from the CBSE board.

Currently, Pursuing B.B.A.LL.B(H) from K. R. Mangalam University, Gurugram.