This is an update on the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill,
2016 (the "Amendment Bill"), which has
recently received assent from the Rajya Sabha on August 11,
2016.The Amendment Bill seeks to bring about certain significant
changes to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.
The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 is applicable to every factory
and to every shop or establishment in which 10 (Ten) or more
persons are or were employed on any day in the preceding twelve
The Amendment Bill is yet to receive assent from the Lok Sabha,
pursuant to which it would require Presidential assent prior to it
being notified as applicable law.
Key Amendments under the Amendment Bill:
Duration of Maternity
Leave: The Amendment Bill has sought to increase the
duration of maternity leave to be provided to a woman employee from
12 (Twelve) weeks to 26 (Twenty Six) weeks. Further, the duration
of maternity leave that a woman can avail prior to the date of the
expected delivery has been sought to be increased from 6 (Six)
weeks to 8 (Eight) weeks. These revised timelines are however
restricted to women having up to 2 (Two) children. In all other
cases, the maternity benefit will continue to be 12 (Twelve) weeks,
out of which not more than 6 (Six) weeks can be availed of prior to
the date of the expected delivery.
Commissioning Mother: The Amendment Bill has sought
to define the terms - 'commissioning mother' and
'adoptive mother'. A 'commissioning mother'
includes a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo
implanted in another woman, and an 'adoptive mother'
includes a woman who legally adopts a child below the age of 3
(Three) months. Accordingly, maternity leave of 12 (Twelve) weeks
has been introduced for - (i) a commissioning mother; and (ii) an
adoptive mother. The said maternity leave is to be calculated from
the date the child is handed over to the adoptive or commissioning
mother, as the case may be.
Option to Work from
Home: Another interesting amendment sought under the
Amendment Bill is the introduction of the concept of 'work from
home' for women whose nature of work is such that it allows her
to work from home. This option can be availed of after the
completion of the maternity leave of 26 (Twenty Six) weeks, for
such duration as mutually agreed between the employer and the
employee. Given that the Amendment Bill is silent on what would
amount to 'work which can be carried out from
home', it is likely that the said amendment will give rise
to varied interpretation at a later date.
facilities: Establishments having 50 (Fifty) or more
employees will need to provide for a crèche within a
stipulated distance, either separately or along with common
facilities. A woman employee will be allowed atleast 4 (Four)
visits to the crèche in a given day, which shall also
include intervals for her rest. The terms 'employees' and
'common facilities' have not been defined either in the
parent legislation, or the Amendment Bill. Hence, we will need to
wait and watch whether it would also include 'contract
employees' within its scope, and if employers would be
permitted to provide common crèche facilities with other
establishments in the vicinity.
Know: Every establishment will need to intimate a
woman about the maternity benefits available to her, at the time of
her appointment. Such information will need to be intimated in
writing and through the electronic mode.
On 31 December 2015 the President gave his assent to certain amendments to the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965. The amendments have increased the wage threshold for determining applicability of the Act from INR 10,000 to INR 21,000 per month.
The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 provides for the payment of statutory bonus to eligible employees. The bonus payable is to be determined on the basis of profits or on the basis of production or productivity of the establishment.
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