By: Mansi Singh and Aditi Rani
The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Amended Act) amending key provisions of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 came into force on April 1, 2017. The key provisions brought in by the Amended Act enhances the maternity leave period besides introducing several compliances for companies. We have set out the key aspects as follows:
Enhancement of the maternity leave: Paid maternity leave for women employees working in any establishment, with 10 or more employees, has been increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. Further, not more than 8 weeks of leave to the women employee shall precede the date of her expected delivery. The enhanced maternity leave will not apply to a mother of two or more children and such women employees will be eligible to only paid maternity leave for 12 weeks (of which not more than 6 weeks shall precede the date of her expected delivery).
Surrogacy/Adoption Leave: The Amended Act introduces 12 weeks of maternity leave to commissioning mothers who use a surrogate to have a child as well as to working women adopting a baby below the age of three months.
Introduction of Work from Home option: “Work from home” option post 26 weeks of the maternity leave for nursing mothers may be considered by the employer, subject to the job profile and on terms mutually agreed between the employer and the concerned woman employee.
Mandatory crèche facility: All establishments having 50 or more employees are mandated to provide a facility, either separately or along with other facilities offered in the office premises. The concerned women employee has to be permitted four visits a day to the crèche during work hours. Such visits shall include the woman employee’s rest interval. This provision alone will come into effect from July 1, 2017.
Medical bonus: The medical bonus of Rs. 2,500 – 3,500 that is entitled to be paid to eligible women employees remains unchanged.
Obligation of the Employer: The employer is required to notify to every woman employee the maternity benefits and the company policy in writing and electronically. Practically, companies can consider to incorporate these provisions in their employee handbooks/HR Manuals.
 Section 3 (ba) defines “commissioning mother” as a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in any other women.
This article has been updated on April 7, 2017 to reflect the changes of the Corrigendum S.O. 1049 (E) dated April 3, 2017 issued by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India.