WHAT CAN HAPPEN IF MATERNITY BENEFITS ARE DENIED?
WHAT IS MATERNITY BENEFIT?
Maternity benefit is the amount which every woman is entitled to be paid and the employer is liable to pay to her at the rate of average daily wage for the period of her actual absence. It is a payment paid to the woman who is on her maternity leave from work and it is covered under social insurance (PRSI) An application for such payment must be made at least 6 weeks before intending to go for maternity leave. (12 weeks in case of self - employed). If the woman is already on some social welfare payments then she may avail half rate maternity benefits.
In India, the maternity benefit rules are governed by the amended maternity benefit act, 2017, which regulates the eligibility, condition and duration for getting maternity benefit. The maternity benefit rules are applicable to factories, shops, mines and establishments which employ 10 or more employees.
The maternity benefit law was regulated by the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 previously but it was further amended in the year 2016. The amendments to the act had changed various provisions regarding the applicability and duration of maternity leave in India. The following changes were brought about by the new maternity benefit rules:
The maternity benefit leaves were previously available to women employees for 12 weeks. Later it was increased to 26 weeks after the 2017 maternity rules. This benefit can be availed in a duration of 8 weeks prior to the expected delivery date and 18weeks after the delivery.
Maternity benefit leave in India is available to both adoptive mothers and commissioning mothers as well. Women employees who adopt a child gets 12 weeks of maternity benefit in India.
3.THE OPTION OF WORK FROM HOME
The new maternity benefit rules of 2017 provide pregnant and lactating women with the option of working from home once the maternity benefit leave of 26 weeks expires. The conditions which govern work from home are mutually decided by the women employee and employer.
4.CRECHE FACILITY BY THE EMPLOYER
The Maternity Benefit Act, 2017 makes it compulsory for the employers that employ more than 50 employees to provide creche facility in the premises and allow women employees to visit the facility 4 times a day. Even if there are 50 employees including men , such facility should be provided. In cases where there are only male workers even then the employer do away with such facility and must keep a creche whereby a father can take care of his child at ease.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO GET MATERNITY BENEFIT IN INDIA?
The Maternity Benefit Act, 2017 lays down the women employees who are most eligible to get maternity benefit. The act states that the women employees who had worked for at least 80 days in the past 12 months can apply for getting maternity benefits in India.
Even the mothers who adopt a child under the age of 3 months are eligible to get a maternity benefit leave for a period of 12 months.
A commissioning or a surrogate mother is also entitled to get maternity benefit for 12 weeks.
If any woman suffers from a miscarriage then she is entitled to get a maternity benefit for a period of 6 weeks after providing a certificate from the doctor. Also if any women suffer from an illness that is caused due to her pregnancy, premature childbirth or delivery, she shall be entitled to get a maternity benefit of 1 month after providing the doctor’s statement.
WHAT TO DO IF MATERNITY BENEFIT IS DENIED BY THE EMPLOYER?
An employee’s maternity benefit can never be denied by any employer. If the maternity benefit services are dismissed or denied by your employer, you can take the following steps:-
HR DEPARTMENT TO BE CONTACTED - Take your grievances to the HR department of the company. Usually, it is the HR representatives that clear up any confusion or grievance between the employer and the employee. Check the HR policies of the company to know about the company’s stance on maternity benefit. If in case the HR fails to provide any resolution, follow the next step.
EMPLOYER TO BE SENT A LEGAL NOTICE - Consult an employment and labour lawyer in India and send a legal notice to your employer regarding the denial of your maternity benefit which is your right. But, still, if the employer doesn’t respond, he can be taken to the court.
APPROACH THE LABOUR COURT- Hire an employment and labour lawyer to file a case against your employer in a Labour court.
Any employer who denies a women employee’s maternity benefit claim in Indian can be punished with imprisonment for up to 3months, fine for up to Rs. 5000, or both. If you have been dismissed or discharged from your service, then he can be punished with imprisonment for a period of 3-12 months.
It is advised to contact an advocate practicing labour and employment acts if your maternity benefit claims are denied by your employer.
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