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    The maternity benefit act, 1961

    The object of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 is to protect the dignity of motherhood by providing for the full and healthy maintenance of woman and her child when she is not working. Therefore this Act was passed aiming at a uniform maternity benefit all over the country providing Maternity Leave to all eligible female employees


    The Maternity Benefit Act, 19 applies to:

    • Factory, Mines, Plantation, Government Establishment, Exhibition of equestrian, Acrobatics & other performances
    • Shops and establishments with 10 or more person employed
    • By Notification to other establishments, Industrial, commercial, agricultural or otherwise after giving not less than months’ notice
    • =


    Every women shall be eligible for maternity benefit when 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)

    Conditions for claiming benefit

    Ten weeks before the date of her expected delivery, she may ask the employer to give her light work for a month. At that time she should produce a certificate that she is pregnant

    She should give written notice to the employer about seven weeks before the date of her delivery that she will be absent for six weeks before and after her delivery. She should also name the person to whom payment will be made in case she cannot take it herself

    She should take the payment for the first six weeks before she goes on leave

    She will get payment for the six weeks after child-birth within 48 hours of giving proof that she has had a child

    She will be entitled to two nursing breaks of fifteen minutes each in the course of her daily work till her child is fifteen months old

    Her employer cannot discharge her or change her conditions of service while she is on maternity leave (Section 5)

    Period of maternity benefit

    It shall be twenty - six weeks of which not more than eight weeks shall precede the date of her expected delivery and the remaining eighteen weeks can be availed after delivery [Section 5(3)]

    The Section does not, however make it compulsory that the women employee shall necessarily avail eight weeks leave preceding the delivery. It only forbids her not to take more than eight weeks maternity leave if she intends to proceed on leave prior to delivery. It is open to her to avail leave for less number of days also. However the total period of leave admissible to her under the Act is twenty-six weeks

    Cash benefit

    • Leave with average pay for six weeks before the delivery
    • Leave with average pay for six weeks after the delivery
    • A medical bonus of Rs. 3500.00 if the employer does not provide free medical care to the woman
    • An additional leave with up to one month if woman shows proof of illness due to pregnancy, delivery, miscarriage or premature birth
    • In case of miscarriage, six weeks leave with average pay from the date of miscarriage

    Non cash benefit

    • Light work for ten weeks (six weeks plus one month) before the date of her expected delivery, if she asks for it
    • Two nursing breaks in course of her daily work until the child is 15 months old
    • No discharge or dismissal while she is on maternity leave>
    • No change to her disadvantage in any of the conditions of her employment while no maternity leave
    • Pregnant woman discharged or dismissed may still claim maternity benefit from the employer
    • EXCEPTION: Woman dismissed for gross misconduct lose their right under this Act

    Leave for miscarriage and tubectomy operation

    Leave with wages at the rate of maternity benefit, for a period of six weeks immediately following the day of her miscarriage of her medical termination of pregnancy

    Entitled to leave with wages at the rate of maternity benefit for a period of two weeks immediately following the day of her tubectomy operation (Section 9 & 13)

    Leave for illness arisimg out of pregnancy etc

    A woman suffering from illness arising out of pregnancy, delivery, premature birth of child (miscarriage, medical termination of pregnancy or tubectomy operation) be entitled, in addition to the period of absence allowed to her leave with wages at the rate of maternity benefit for a maximum period of one month (Section 12)

    Forfeiture of maternity benefit

    If permitted by her employer to absent herself under the provision of section 6 for any period during such authorized absence, she shall forfeit her claim to the maternity benefit for such period

    For discharging or dismissing such a woman during or on account of her absence from work, employer shall be punishable with imprisonment which shall not be less than 3 months but will extend to one year and with fine, not exceeding Rs 5000 (Section 18)