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Maternity Leave Policy in India in 2022

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 08/11/2022

Women empowerment is a continuous process. As the concept touched various domains, we learned to be more sensitive and understanding of the challenges that women face. When it comes to working women, they are often seen juggling between home and office. Having to undergo a lot of stressful situations regularly, these women still manage to look after both her home and her work efficiently.

However, when it comes to pregnancy, the challenges increase further. Previously, women would be fired from their work if there was ever a demand for maternity leave or if their pregnancy interfered with their performance. To keep from getting fired, women chose to take a leave without pay.

With the turn of the time’s tide, however, offices and corporates became more open and sensitive to the female workforce and addressed their concerns by introducing maternity leave benefits. The maternity leave policy in India was also strengthened in August 2016. The Government made amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 by extending the maternity leave duration from the former 12 weeks to 26 weeks. Considering the responsibilities shouldered by a working mother who can neither neglect work nor her newborn, extending the pregnancy leave can help her cope with the new responsibility.

The extended maternity leave in India will help new mothers strengthen their bond with their babies and tend to their own physical needs alongside their children’s. New mothers must also invest in a comprehensive health insurance plan with a pregnancy cover add-on to look after their health while securing their finances.

Understanding the Maternity Benefit Act 1961

The maternity leave policy in India is designed to ensure comfort and convenience for the expecting mother without the threat to her job security. However, every expecting mother must acquaint herself with the maternity leave rules to know her rights.

The Maternity Benefit Act mandates that an expecting mother will be paid the maternity leave salary at the rate of her average wages in the three months preceding her pregnancy leave. However, according to the maternity leave rules, the employee ought to have worked at the said company for at least 80 days in the 12 months prior to her expected due date. From the 26 weeks of maternity leave duration, the expecting mother can choose to go for up to eight weeks' leave prior to her delivery. The structure of the leave is left to the convenience of the mother, and she can choose to take the entire 26-week maternity leave after the baby is born.

The aforementioned claims are the maximum that the new mother can claim. She can even choose to claim the maternity leave benefits for a smaller duration. Organisations with more than 10 employees are eligible to establish this act for female employees who are working on both a contract or permanent basis.

Eligibility for the Maternity Leave in India

The maternity leave act applies to the following women:

  • Adoptive Mothers

For women who choose to adopt, the maternity leave duration they are eligible for is 12 weeks. These 12 weeks are calculated from the day of adopting the baby that is younger than 3 months of age.

  • Commissioning Mothers and Surrogate Mothers

A commissioning mother is a female employee who has opted for the services of another woman to conceive a child. This can be with or without the provision of genetic material by her and her partner. On the other hand, a surrogate mother is a female employee who chooses to bear a child on behalf of another woman. As per the maternity leave policy in India, both the commissioning as well as the surrogate mother are eligible for the entire maternity leave salary along with the pregnancy leave of up to 180 days or 26 weeks.

  • Tubectomy Cases

Tubectomy or tubal sterilisation is a permanent method of contraception in women. In this, the fallopian tubes are surgically blocked, thereby preventing the egg that is released from the ovary from reaching the uterus. The female employees who have gotten their tubectomy done can opt for two weeks’ leave from the date of their operation.

  • Post-Pregnancy Health Complications

    After childbirth, mothers tend to focus on the health of their newborn child. However, in the weeks and months following the pregnancy, they might have to deal with health problems. Sometimes the postpartum health complications may even become life-threatening. According to the maternity leave policy in India, women who are suffering from a critical illness after their delivery can avail of a one-month benefit.

This is why taking care of your health and getting critical illness insurance becomes important for expecting and new mothers. Critical illness insurance can take care of the treatment expenses so that the new mother can focus on speedy recovery instead of worrying about finances.

  • Government Civil Employees

Female government civil employees are eligible for a paid leave of up to 180 days for their first two live-born children.

  • Private Sector Employees

The female workforce in the private sector must check the maternity leave rules with their respective HR personnel. This is because the rules can be different from one company to the next. The HR of the company is responsible for drafting and revising the company’s maternity leave policy. HR must also take the initiative to enhance comfort for pregnant women by enabling working from home. Expecting mothers, on the other hand, must carefully read the policy documents to know about the maternity leave benefits they are eligible for.

Changes After the 2017 Amendment to the Maternity Benefit

Certain revised provisions were introduced following the 2017 amendment to the Maternity Benefit Act. These revisions include:

Work from Home Provisions: Following the conclusion of their 26-week pregnancy leave, new mothers can choose to work from home depending on the nature of their work. However, this will have to be mutually agreed upon by the employer and the employee.

Crèche Facility: For every organisation employing more than 50 employees, it is mandatory to make the crèche facility available. The female employees must be allowed to visit the crèche at least 4 times a day.

Increased Employee Awareness: The amendment makes it mandatory for companies to educate employees about maternity benefits at the time of appointment. Additionally, terminating the employment without justifiable reason when it coincides with the first day of the maternity leave will automatically be considered termination because of pregnancy and thereby will be deemed illegal and unjustifiable.

The Bottom Line

To-be mothers have a lot of aspects to take care of and have the right to make their pregnancy their biggest priority. And so, every woman must be aware of the maternity benefits and also take care of herself by investing in a comprehensive health insurance policy.

A health insurance plan with pregnancy cover can help deal with several pre-existing as well as postpartum illnesses. To-be mothers must also check if their health insurance policy includes critical illness insurance, particularly for cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, etc., as these have been identified as primary complications for pregnancy-related deaths. A comprehensive health insurance policy is, therefore, essential for expecting mothers. The maternity health insurance by Tata AIG covers to-be mothers for a range of scenarios right from maternity-related hospitalisation to delivery, including pre-and post-natal expenses.

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