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IMPORTANT CLARIFICATIONS MATERNITY BENEFIT ACT, 1961

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON MATERNITY BENEFIT ACT
In case of miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy, a woman shall, on production of such proof as may be prescribed, be entitled to leave with wages at the rate of maternity benefit, for a period of six weeks immediately following the day of her miscarriage or, as the case may be, her medical termination of pregnancy. 
In case of tubectomy operation, a woman shall, on production of such proof as may be prescribed, be entitled to leave with wages at the rate of maternity benefit for a period of two weeks immediately following the day of her tubectomy operation.
A) Maternity benefits are available under the provisions of ESI Act. Duration of maternity benefit is 12 weeks in case of normal delivery and 6 weeks in case of miscarriage. The period can be extended by 4 weeks on medical advice. Maternity benefit is available subject to the condition of payment of contribution for a minimum 80 days in one or two consecutive contribution periods and the rate of payment is double the standard benefit rate i.e., approximate full wages. An insured woman shall be qualified to claim maternity benefits for a confinement occurring or expected to occur in a benefit period, if the contributions in respect of her were payable for not less than seventy days in the immediately preceding two consecutive  contributions periods.
          For getting the maternity benefits i.e., maternity leave and cash benefits one has to obtain medical certificate from the dispensary and deposit the same with the local office and claim cash benefits. The employer will give maternity leave on the basis of medical certificate.
12. What is the difference for entitlement of an insured woman employee under the ESI Act and wife of an insured person?
A) The wife of an insured person will be entitled to all the medical facilities which include delivery of the child also. But she will not be entitled to cash benefits which are available to insured women only. Cash benefits are given to compensate the loss of salary which the employer is unable to earn due to sickness including maternity.

13) What are the non-cash benefits or privileges?
A) A women worker is also entitled to the following privileges:
          i) Light work for ten weeks (six weeks plus one month) before the date of her   expected delivery, if she asks for it.
          ii) Two nursing breaks in the course of her daily work until the child is 15 months old.
          iii) No discharge or dismissal while she is on maternity leave.
          iv)  No change to her advantage in any of the conditions of her employment while on      maternity leave.
          v) Pregnant women discharged or dismissed may still claim maternity benefit from         the employer.
          Exception : Women dismissed for gross misconduct lose their right under the Act for Maternity Benefit.
14) What is meant by ‘light work’?
A)       “Light work’ means work which neither required hard physical effort nor involves long hours of standing and which does not adversely affect her health or, in any way, interferes with her pregnancy.
15) Whether leave for illness arising out of pregnancy, delivery, premature birth of child, or miscarriage is available?
A)  Yes. A woman suffering from illness arising out of pregnancy, delivery, premature birth of child or miscarriage shall, on production of such proof as may be prescribed, be entitled, in addition to the period of absence allowed to her under section 6 of the Act, or as the case may be under section 9 of the Act i.e., leave for miscarriage to leave with wages at the rate of maternity benefit for a maximum period of one month.
16) Is a woman employee under obligation to give notice to the employer for claiming benefit?
A)   Although giving notice is prescribed and it is also provided that in the case of a woman who is pregnant, such notice shall state the date from which she will be absent from work, not being a date earlier than six weeks from the date of her expected delivery. However, any woman who have not given the notice when she was pregnant may give such notice as soon as possible. 
17) Is there any penalty for violating the provisions of the Act?
A)  If any employer fails to pay any amount of maternity benefit to a woman entitled under this Act or discharges or dismisses such woman during or on account of her absence from work in accordance with the provisions of this Act, he shall be punishable with imprisonment which shall not be less than three months but which may extend to one year and with fine which shall not be less than two thousand rupees but which may extend to five thousand rupees.

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