Maternity Leave Rules and Benefits: Update 2023

Maternity leave should increase from six months to nine months
FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) president Sudha Shivkumar said the global care economy, the paid and unpaid labour related to caregiving such as childcare, elder care, and domestic chores, is a critical sector that enhances economic growth, gender equity, and women’s empowerment.

The Maternity Benefit Act 1961 applies to all women employed in factories, mines, plantations, and organizations with 10 or more employees in the public and private sectors.

Maternity leave is a work-sanctioned period of absence that working women can utilise before and/or after they deliver a child.

Under Maternity Act, women who are eligible to take a maternity leave and who work at recognized organisations and factories can apply for maternity leave for up to 6 months.

Women employees can take their maternity leave either before or after they deliver their child. Their maternity leave can also span a period before and after their delivery as well.

During this leave period, the woman’s employer is required to pay the woman employee her salary in its entirety.

No employer shall knowingly employ a woman in any establishment during the six weeks immediately following the day of her delivery, miscarriage, or medical termination of pregnancy.

In addition to the standard maternity leave rules in India, employers can provide further maternity leave as a benefit to their women employees. 

This Act was updated as recently as 2017, and covers work-from-home or hybrid work models, in addition to allowing new mothers additional paid days off. 

Maternity Leave Eligibility

A woman should have worked with her employer for at least 80 days in the 12 months preceding the date of her expected delivery.

Women who are pregnant, adopting a child, or experiencing a miscarriage are eligible for maternity leave in India.

Commissioning, or surrogate mothers, are also entitled to up to 26 weeks of maternity leave which starts from the day the newborn is handed over to the adoptive parents. 

  • Pregnant women 
  • Women adopting a child 
  • Women who experience a miscarriage 
  • Surrogate or commissioning mothers 

Maternity Leave Benefits

A woman employee can use her maternity leave in India for a certain period of time, when she will receive her full salary while she is away fulfilling her maternal obligations and duties.

To ensure that pregnant women are able to work in a safe and healthy manner, their workplace has to provide certain amenities such as hygienic rest rooms, comfortable seating or working arrangements, and safe drinking water. 

If a woman, having been delivered of a child, dies during her delivery or during the period immediately following the date of her delivery, she is entitled for the maternity benefit.

For first and second-time mothers, the Maternity Benefit Act 1961 states that she can take 6 months, or 26 weeks, off. 

With every subsequent child, the mother can avail 3 months, or 12 weeks, off for her maternity leave, which is a paid leave wherein her employer needs to pay her salary in full.

Maternity Benefit Act provides mothers with provisions for child care, and the employee can go back to her previous post when she returns from her maternity leave.

A woman who legally adopts a child below the age of three months or a commissioning mother shall be entitled to maternity benefit for a period of twelve weeks.

In case where the nature of work assigned to a woman is of such nature that she may work from home, the employer may allow her to do so after availing of the maternity benefit.

Maternity Benefits under ESIC

Maternity Benefit is payable to an Insured Woman in the following cases subject to contributory conditions-

  • Maternity Benefit is payable for a maximum period of 26 weeks upto 2 surviving children in case of confinement of which not more than 8 weeks shall precede the expected date of confinement, on production of form 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21.
  • Miscarriage or Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP)-payable for 6 weeks (42 days) from the date following miscarriage.
  • Sickness arising out of Pregnancy, Confinement, Premature birth-payable for a period not exceeding one month-on the basis of Forms 7, 8, 9 and 10.
  • In the event of the death of the Insured Woman during confinement leaving behind a child, Maternity Benefit is payable to her nominee on production of Form 24 (B).
  • Maternity benefit rate is 100% of average daily wages.

Notice of Claim for Maternity Benefit

  • Any woman entitled to maternity benefit may give notice in writing to her employer, stating that her maternity benefit and any other amount to which she may be entitled under this Act may be paid to her or to such person as she may nominate in the notice.
  • 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.
  • Any woman who has not given the notice when she was pregnant may give such notice as soon as possible after the delivery.
  • On receipt of the notice, the employer shall permit such woman to absent herself from the establishment during the period for which she receives the maternity benefit.

The amount of maternity benefit for the period preceding the date of her expected delivery shall be paid in advance by the employer to the woman on production of such proof as may be prescribed that the woman is pregnant, and the amount due for the subsequent period shall be paid by the employer to the woman within forty-eight hours of production of such proof as may be prescribed that the woman has been delivered of a child.

Payment in Case of Death of Woman

If a woman entitled to maternity benefit or any other amount under this Act, dies before receiving such maternity benefit or amount, or where the employer is liable for maternity benefit under the second proviso to sub-section (3) of section 5, the employer shall pay such benefit or amount to the person nominated by the woman in the notice given under section 6 and in case there is no such nominee, to her legal representative.

Payment of Medical Bonus

Every woman entitled to maternity benefit under this Act shall also be entitled to receive from her employer a medical bonus of Rs. 3500/- as per the Maternity Benefit Act & Rs. 5000/- as per ESI Act from ESIC if no pre-natal confinement and post-natal care are provided by the employer/ ESIC free of charge

The Central Government may before every three years, by notification in the Official Gazette, increase the amount of medical bonus.

Leave for Miscarriage

In case of miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy, a woman shall, on the 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.

Leave with Wages for Tubectomy Operation

In case of tubectomy operation, a woman shall, on the 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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here