“It is the most powerful creation to have life growing inside you. There is a no bigger gift.” – Beyonce Knowles
The transition from a woman to a mother is magical and never simple. Especially if it’s a working mother. She needs to tackle both the job and household chores and take care of the people. It is the time when a woman needs support and affection. They need to tend to just as much as the baby does. It is expected by the companies to relieve them from the hassle of work during the final days of pregnancy and (post) delivery. There are several maternity laws that exist to protect the welfare of women, and also aim to make their lives easier.
What is the Maternity Benefit Act?
It works to strengthen the participation of women in the employment sector. According to the Maternity Benefit Act, a woman has the right to get paid an amount at an average rate of her daily wages for a period of Six months. Every firm, factory, shop, and establishments are responsible for informing their women staff about this benefit. To get this maternity allowance, the woman ought to have worked for a period of a minimum of 80 days in a year for the respective company. If your work can be carried out from home, then this law allows that too. It lets you work from home if that’s possible (according to the nature of the work). Maternity Benefit Act was later amended to add the provision of including creches for the convenience of working women. The child can be looked after in the creche till he or she turns 15 months.
Major Benefits of Maternity Laws
- An employer cannot fire a woman employee for asking or taking maternity leave. With the implementation of these laws, it has become a basic right of women.
- Women face a number of bias and difficulties in the working sector, especially during pregnancy. The laws aim to wipe out all of it, giving equal importance to women and men.
- Companies and establishments should pay medical and maternity bonus during the time of delivery. Failing to do so can put them behind the bars.
- Because of such laws, an employer cannot conduct any malpractice regarding the terms of service of the female workers even if they go for maternity leave.
- It strengthens gender equality and respects the pains underwent by women.
There used to be a time when women used to quit their jobs during pregnancy and labor and may end up staying at home for the rest of their lives. Very few get back to their old life. The laws implemented during the last few decades have seen a significant decrease in the rate of women who drop out of their job. As far as India is concerned, the maternity leave has been extended from three months to a period of six months. Women’s participation in the job sector has become mandatory if the government wants to sack poverty and uplift the economy.
Few Things for the Employer to Keep in Mind
- The employer is supposed to give the payment to the employee before the delivery.
- It should be kept in mind that these laws are applicable to all women despite their salary or type of work. Even a woman who works in contract basis is equally qualified for maternity allowances any other.
- The health of the woman is the number one priority and thus its highly offensive crime to make a woman work during the six weeks after her delivery or even miscarriage.
- The Maternity Benefit Act also provides leave for women who had a miscarriage. They have the right to ask for time off work and employer should not fire them for doing so.
- The employer should not make the pregnant woman do hard tasks or such ones that involve long hours of standing or that which give strain to their body.
- If the employer violates any of the above conditions and is found as guilty then he/she will be charged with one year of imprisonment with a fine of 50,000 Indian Rupees.
There are many families around which can’t bear all the expense of childbirth. For them, the medical bonus comes as a greater relief. And there are cases when women rush back to jobs just to make both ends meet. It can have a negative impact on their body and health. But when they receive the maternity bonus it will ease their stress and can help them tend to their baby without any worries.
The Necessity of Maternal Leave and Laws
- The pain and psychological emotions associated with delivery extend further beyond the labor room. A woman needs a lot of time to cope with the varying range of emotions and rise to reality.
- Few women suffer from post-partum depression and anxiety. They need special care and attention. They deserve a break to get back to their old selves
- Post-partum also comes with lactation problems including tiredness, illness, fatigue, etc. She cannot be forced to work during such strenuous days.
- It is proven that paid maternity leave can completely change the lives of both the mother and the child.
- The child develops a strong bond with the mother through breastfeeding. Such children are considered immune and healthy.
- The new mothers need time to mold according to the new routine, which calls for less sleep etc. Thus, a maternity leave of six months sounds apt and perfect.
If the company cares for its women employees, then they should rise to wrap them in a shroud of affection and warmth. The company should discuss with them about a ‘coming back’ plan and do that which is necessary for them. Help them to eliminate the working mom guilt, as it can be quite frustrating to them. Try not to put them in too much pressure and stress as before.
To sum up, maternity benefits should extend beyond maternity bonus and leave. It should reflect in the very air of the company. Give them a hand because a mother can’t be good at work unless she knows her baby is well cared for.
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