“If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate an entire family.”
A woman is the basic unit of society. It is impossible to think about a society without the contribution of women. A woman makes a family that in turn makes a home and homes make a society. The development of a society is not possible without education and the first and best school of a child is his mother’s lap. Women are those pillars of a society that contribute in building up a strong society. So, it becomes essential on part of us to provide such strength and supportive mechanism to these pillars to the maximum extent so that they can stand firm, strong and independent. Looking at this perspective, there are many provisions for the security and benefits of women in constitution. Besides that our Government and legislations have undertaken a lot of efforts to strengthen the women in different perspective. Such attention is paid also to the pregnant women. Many laws are there with reference to pregnant women.
One such law is made with reference to the working pregnant women i.e. a pregnant woman who is undertaking any job. Generally, the women find it difficult to continue their work during pregnancy and in order to have good health of own and her child; women have to quit the job. In order to make the working conditions favourable for women during maternity and protect their source of income, the Government came up with Maternity Benefits Act.
WHAT IS MATERNITY BENEFITS ACT?
The Maternity Benefits Act is the benefit provided in the form of legislation to protect the employment of women at the time of her maternity. It provides the benefits of fully paid wages to women employees during her absence due to maternity. It provides the assurance that no employer of establishments employing 10 or more employees can terminate the women employee while maternity. Maternity Benefits regulate the employment of women employees in certain establishments for certain periods before and after childbirth and provides for maternity and many other benefits.
The first maternity benefit law was made by the state of Bombay in 1929. After this, several other states passed the maternity benefits acts with slight variations in the conditions and period of leave. Soon, a need was felt for a central legislation for maternity benefits in order to reduce the disparities under different state enactments. Hence, the Central Government passed the ‘Maternity Benefits Act 1961’. In 2017, it was amended to form a new ‘Maternity Benefits Act 2017’.
MAJOR OBJECTIVES OF MATERNITY BENEFITS ACT
Maternity Benefits act is enacted with the main objective of regulating the employment of women during their maternity in order to safeguard their interests. The act is established with the foremost aim of protecting and providing solutions to the problems that the women employees face during maternity [also post maternity].
In order to safeguard the health of woman and her child, maternity benefits act provide a lot of provisions. Due to the fear of loss of wages and termination from job, many women go for their work even during their maternity. This can affect the health of not only the mother, but also the child. Maternity Benefits Act becomes a saviour in this case. According to this act, no employer of an establishment having 10 or more employees can terminate the woman employee during her maternity except under some conditions. This act also provides for a provision of fully paid wages even in the absence of woman employee during maternity. Both these provisions not only attempts to safeguard the health of mother and child, but also relieves the woman from the undue stress regarding the loss of wages and the job security.
This act aims to provide for maternity benefits like maternity leave, wages, bonus, nursing breaks, etc. and has set many provisions in this regard.
We know that the maternity is a very complicated and painful process. It can even cause bodily damage to the woman leading to reduce the productivity of woman. The maternity process can affect the future work of woman also along with the difficulties in the maternity period. In this case, Maternity Benefits Act enters with its such provisions that help the women in this regard.
One of the major objectives behind this legislation is to make gender-friendly labour market. No doubt, this act provides for breaking the stereotypes of the thinking of people that women should remain within the four walls handling the family and should not go outside for jobs.
The act works for the protection of the dignity of motherhood and mothers. It provides the opportunities to women of remaining self-reliant and economically independent.
Maternity Benefits Act provide for the benefits of women employee before and after childbirth. It provides such opportunities to women that they can take care of their health and child without taking undue stress of their loss and jobs. The act has provided the provisions, now it becomes our responsibility to follow its provisions and then work on the path established by the act.