Maternity Laws in India
According to the old laws that is Maternity Benefit Act, the women employees
were allowed to get 12 weeks of maternity leave where six weeks is for post
natal leave and six weeks for prenatal leave. In case if she suffers miscarriage or
in any case the pregnancy is terminated then also she is entitled to get six weeks
paid maternity leave and in the opposite situation if there are complications in
her pregnancy like premature birth or a tubectomy operation then she is entitled
to get one month additional paid maternity leave.
But under new laws which is Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act passed in the
year 2017, the leave has been extended. It has been raised from 12 weeks to 26
weeks. Also, the prenatal leave is from six weeks to eight weeks but if the
woman is already a mother of two or more children will get only 12 weeks
maternity leave and the prenatal leave also remain 6 weeks as it was before the
amendment Act passed.
According to me, this is not something which can be regarded as a good step.
The laws which includes leaves should be same for both the first time mother
and second and third time mother. Just because she has already given a birth
and suffered pain, it does not mean that she is used to it. Every time she will
give birth there will be extreme pain and sometimes unbearable. The
government should keep this in mind. Having already two or more children
does not make any difference in bearing of the child and its birth. The woman
has to go all that again. It doesn’t matter. Even sometimes complications occur
more as the woman has already given birth once or twice or thrice. The process
becomes more difficult and terrible and in that case they should be entitled to
get more weeks of leave but our government fails to realize this and have
amended the old law in such a way that it can only be fruitful for a first time
mother who is experiencing a pregnancy for the first time. And the womens
who have already experienced the pregnancy didn’t get any benefit. This is
discriminating in nature.
Further, there are some State laws also which includes some kind and
provisions related to the maternity leave. Like in Maharashtra, every woman is
entitled to get a maternity leave under the scheme established in Maharashtra
Employment Guarantees Act, 1977 who has worked for not less than 150 days.
Also, the maternity leave is available for all the female employees of private
schools also but there is no law related to maternity leave in the state of
Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Apart
from Maharashtra, only Rajasthan is having maternity laws for all pregnant
women at shops and commercial establishments. It is ruled under the Rajasthan
Maternity Benefit Act, 1953.
All these things show that some states recognize the difficulties of a pregnant
woman and some states are in a process to think. They have not made any
separate law or provision apart from the central government. As of now, they do
not provide any extra benefit apart from the scheme mentioned in the Maternity
Benefit Act. From a long time, maternity leave is regarded a reward which the
employer gives to its female employees. It is important here to note that it is not
a reward but a right of a woman. Woman are only entitled only to give a birth to
a child naturally and not men. She has the responsibility to produce babies and
in the process she faces so much difficulties with extreme pain and all. This
struggle should be recognized and accepted rather than looked upon. Apart
from this, they also have the right to work also and be independent.