The Maternity Benefits Act

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THE MATERNITY BENEFITS ACT, 1961
BY SUSHMA SUDHINDRA

1. OBJECTIVE
To regulate the employment of women in certain establishment for certain period before and after child-birth and to provide for maternity benefit and certain other benefits. To provide healthy maintenance of pregnant women employee and her child

2. APPLICABILITY

Every factory, mine or plantation(including those belonging to Government) To every shop or establishment wherein 10 or more persons are employed

3. TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT
No employer shall knowingly employ a woman in any establishment during the 6 weeks immediately following the day of her delivery or her miscarriage. No woman shall work in any establishment during the 6 weeks immediately following the day of her delivery or her miscarriage.

No pregnant woman shall, on a request being made by her in this behalf, be required by her employer to do any work which is of an arduous nature or which involves long hours of standing or which in any way is likely to interfere with her pregnancy or the normal development of the foetus, or is likely to cause her miscarriage or otherwise to adversely affect her health. The period referred to in sub-section (3) shall be – (a) at the period of 1 month immediately preceding the period of 6 weeks, before the date of her expected delivery; (b) any period during the said period of 6 weeks for which the pregnant woman does not avail of leave of absence.

4. PAYMENT OF THE MATERNITY BENEFITS
Every woman shall be entitled to, and her employer shall be liable for, the payment of maternity benefit at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of her actual absence i.e. immediately preceding and including the day of her delivery and any period following that day. The average daily wage means the average of the woman's wages payable to her for the days on which she has worked during the period of 3 calendar months immediately preceding the date from which she absents herself on account of maternity, [the minimum rate of wage fixed or revised under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 (11 of 1948) or ten rupees, whichever is the highest].

PAYMENT OF THE MATERNITY BENEFITS
No woman shall be entitled to maternity benefit unless she has actually worked in an establishment of the employer from whom she claims maternity benefit, for a period of not less than 80 days in the 12 months immediately preceding the date of her expected delivery provided that the qualifying period of 80 days aforesaid shall not apply to a woman who has immigrated into the State of Assam and was pregnant at the time of the immigration. For the purpose of calculating under the sub-section the days on which a woman has actually worked in the establishment [the days for which she has been laid off or was on holidays declared under any law for the time being in force to be holidays with wages] during the period of 12 months immediately preceding the date of her expected delivery shall be taken into account.

PAYMENT OF THE MATERNITY BENEFITS
The maximum period for which any woman shall be entitled to maternity benefit shall be 12 weeks of which not more than 6 weeks shall precede the date of her expected delivery provided that where a woman dies during this period, the maternity benefit shall be payable only for the days up to and including the day of her death: Provided further that where a woman, having been delivered of a child, dies during her delivery or during the period immediately following the date of her delivery for which she is entitled for the maternity benefit, leaving behind in either case the child, the employer shall be liable for the maternity benefit for that entire period but if the child also dies during the said period, then, for the days up to and including the date of the death of the child.

5. CONDITIONS FOR CLAIMING BENEFITS
Must actually work for 80 days in 12 months immediately preceding her date of Delivery. Should intimate the employer 7 weeks...
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