Maternity and Work

Maternity Leave

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017, passed by the Rajya Sabha in August 2016, has also been passed by the Lok Sabha in March 2017.

Under the new Law, maternity leave is raised from current 12 weeks to 26 weeks. The prenatal leave is also extended from six to eight weeks. However, a woman with already two or more children is entitled to 12 weeks’ maternity leave. The prenatal leave in this case remains six weeks.

The Act also provides for adoption leave of 12 weeks for a woman who adopts a child under the age of three months. A commissioning mother is also entitled to a 12-week leave from the date the child is handed over to her. A commissioning mother is defined as “biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in any other woman” (the woman who gives birth to the child is called host or surrogate mother). 

The Act further requires an employer to inform a woman worker of her rights under the Act at the time of her appointment. The information must be given in writing and in electronic form (email).

Female civil servants are entitled to maternity leave for a period of 180 days for their first two live born children.

Before March 2017, the law provided following rights.

According to the Maternity Benefit Act female workers are entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks (84 days) of maternity leave. Out of these 12 weeks, six weeks leave is post-natal leave. In case of miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy, a worker is entitled to six weeks of paid maternity leave. Employees are also entitled to one additional month of paid leave in case of complications arising due to pregnancy, delivery, premature birth, miscarriage, medical termination or a tubectomy operation (two weeks in this case).

Source: §3-10 of the Maternity Benefits Act 1961, amended in 2017; §43 of the Central Civil Service (Leave) Rules 1972


The maternity leave is awarded with full pay on completion of at least 80 days in an establishment in the 12 months prior to her expected date of delivery. The maternity benefit is awarded at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of a worker's actual absence from work. Apart from 12 weeks of salary, a female worker is entitled to a medical bonus of 3,500 Indian rupees.

Under the National Food Security Act 2013, pregnant women and lactating mothers are entitled to receive maternity benefit of at least Rs. 6,000. The Act further requires that subject to such schemes as may be framed by the Central Government, every pregnant woman and lactating mother will be entitled to free meals during pregnancy and six months after the child birth, through the local anganwadi, so as to meet their nutritional needs.  

Source: §5 of the Maternity Benefits Act 1961; §4of the National Food Security Act 2013

Non-Standard Workers' Rights on Income Replacement during Maternity - Platform workers

Self-employed workers are theoretically covered under the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008. National Social Security Board was also constituted for recommending the formulation of social security schemes viz. Life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, old age protection and any other benefit as may be determined by the Government for unorganized workers. Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana provides health insurance to the unorganized sector workers including self-employed.

Draft Code on Social Security, 2019 talks about initiation of suitable social security schemes for gig workers and platform workers on matter relating to- (a) life and disability cover; (b) health and maternity benefits; (c) old age protection; and any other benefit as may be determined by the Central Government.

Free Medical Care

A pregnant women worker is entitled to a maternity benefit (in the form of medical bonus) of one thousand rupees if no prenatal confinement and post-natal care is provided by the employer free of charge.. It can be increased to a maximum limit of twenty thousand rupees. The Central Government is authorized to increase the basic amount every three years. In August 2008, the amount of medical bonus was 2500 Indian rupees which has been later raised in 2011 to 3500 Indian rupees.

Source: § 8 of the Maternity Benefits Act 1961