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What is maternity benefit act ? discuss the object and reason of maternity benefit act ,  1961. What are the features of this act  .

Maternity benefit act , 1961:

                                   The objective behind the enactment of Maternity Benefit Act , 1961 (hereinafter the act) was to regular the employment of woman for certain period and after child-birth and to provide them maternity benefit . This act is among those few acts that are applicable even in the jammu and Kashmir . This act applies to every establishment being a factory , mine , plantation or any other such establishment where the persons are employed for exhibiting equestrian , acrobatic or any other performances. The state Government can add any other kind of establishment or a class of establishment by giving a notice , two months prior to the central government , after that ,  can notify the same in the official gazette.

Purpose and objective:

The objective of the Maternity Benefit Act is, inter alia ,

A)     To provide for maternity benefit to woman workers in certain establishments.

B)     To regulate the employment of woman employees in such establishments for certain periods before and after child birth.

Applicability :

The Maternity Benefit Act applies to

A)   every establishment being a factory , mine , plantation or circus and every shop in which 10 (Ten) or more persons are employed.

B)    To every shop or establishment defined under any law in a state in which persons are employed on any day of the preceding 12 ( Twelve ) months . It may be noted that  the Maternity Benefit Act does not apply to employees who are covered under the provisions of the Employees State insurance Act ,1948.

Eligibility :

A woman shall be entitled to benefit only if she has actually worked in an establishment of the employer for a period of not less than 80 (Eighty) days in the 12 (Twelve) months immediately preceding the date of her expected delivery . The employment of women, immediately following the day of her delivery or her miscarriage is prohibited.

Salient features of the Maternity Benefit ( Amendment ) bill , 2016 are :-

1.       Duration of maternity leave :

The 1961 Act states that every wpman will be entitled to maternity benefit of 12 weeks . The 2016 bill has increase this to 26 week.

2.       Maternity benefit prior to expected delivery :

Under the 1961 Act , this maternity benefit should not be availed before 6 weeks from the date of expected delivery . The 2016 bill changes this to 8 weeks.

3.     Maternity benefit for a woman having two or more children :

If a woman has two or more children , the maternity benefit will continue to be 12 weeks , which cannot be availed before 6 weeks from the date of the expected delivery.

4.     Maternity Benefit to adopting mother and commissioning mother :

As per the 2016 Bill a Woman who legally adopts a child below the age of three months or a commission mother shall be entitled to maternity benefit for a period of 12 weeks from the date the child is handed over to the adopting mother or the commissioning mother .

5.    Provision for creche facility :

 The 2016 Bill introduces a provision which requires every establishment with 50 or more employees to provide creche facilities within a prescribed distance . The woman will be allowed four visits to the creche in a day . This will include the interval of rest allowed to her .

6.      Option to work from home :

The 2016 bill  introduces a provision that states that an employer may permit a woman to work from home . This would apply if the nature of work assigned to the woman permits her to work from home . This option can be availed of,  after the period of maternity leave , for a duration that is mutually decided by the employer and the woman.

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