Must Know: Five New Rights for Would-be Mothers
With amended Maternity Benefit Act coming into force, mothers-to-be can look forward to paid leave
Working mothers who are expecting can now look forward to spending more time to recuperate and nurse their newborns, thanks to the Maternity Benefit Act that came into effect from April 1. What's more, its purview extends beyond biological mothers. Whether you are in the family way or not, you can keep yourself abreast of the changes aimed at helping pregnant women as well as their children cope with the challenges of motherhood.
Here are five of them:
1. Enhancement of maternity leave
You are now eligible for paid maternity leave of 26 weeks instead 12 weeks as per the existing law. Out of this, you can claim up to eight weeks' leave, as against six weeks earlier, before the date of delivery. However, provisions remain unchanged for those who are expecting their third child.
2. Leave for adoptions too
Adoptive mothers, too, will now be allowed maternity leave of 12 weeks, though the Act does not extend the benefit of the longer leave period to them. Same is also applicable to commissioning mothers—those who choose to have their baby through surrogacy. The period of leave will start from the date the child is handed over to her.
3. Mandatory crèche facilities
If your organisation has workforce strength of 50, it will have to provide crèche facilities for their female employees' children. You will be allowed to visit your kid four times a day, including breaks.
4. Option to work from home
While some organisations already offer this option to new mothers who are in the process of resuming work, the Act aims to formalise such arrangements. However, you and your employer will have to come to a mutual agreement on the period for such a facility, which will be offered over and above the mandatory maternity leave, as well as other terms and conditions. While this provision is not mandatory, it empowers you to ask for work-from-home option wherever possible, minus the sense of guilt.
5. Right to be informed
Finally, every organisation will now be required to communicate the benefits available under this Act to every female employee right at the time of her appointment. On your part, you must specifically ask for the information when you join a new organisation to keep yourself informed.