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Significant Provisions and Amendments Under Maternity Benefits Act, 1961


The general public still remains unaware of the labour laws that prevail in order to make the work environment safer and more secure. It entitles the employees with reasonable benefits and provides many guidelines to the employers so that no person is exploited at work in any manner. One such law is the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961. A recent amendment brought to the Act – the Maternity benefits (Amendment) Act, 2017 has been received with great joy but still demands some more clarity.

Let us look at the Said Maternity Benefits Amendment.

The Official Gazette notification dated 31st March 2017 by The Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India (“Ministry of Labour“) has declared the Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act 2017 (“MB Amendment Act“) to come into force from 1st April 2017 except the provision related to “work from home” option, which shall come into effect from 1 July 2017.

The said amendment received Presidential assent on 27th March 2017 and was published in the Official Gazette on 28th March 2017.

What are the Highlights of the MB Amendment Act?

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017 oversees the entitlement of paid maternity leaves as well as other related benefits for the women in employment.

The key amendments introduced are:

  1. The Amendment has increased the paid maternity leave’s duration which is available to the women employees. Earlier it was for 12 weeks having been increased now to 26 weeks.
    This benefit can be availed by women for a period

    1. Up to 8 weeks before the expected delivery date and
    2. Remaining 18 weeks post childbirth.
  2. For women having 2 children who are expecting, the duration of paid maternity leave shall be for a period of 12 weeks:
    1. 6 weeks pre-expected date of delivery and
    2. 6 weeks post-expected date of delivery.
  3. The amendment provides benefits of Maternity leave to adoptive and commissioning mothers. It states that every woman who adopts a child or is a commissioning mother can avail 12 weeks of maternity leave, from the date of adoption.
    The term ‘commissioning mother’ refers to the women who uses her egg to create an embryo to be implanted into the womb of another woman.
  4. The MB Amendment Act has also established an enabling provision for “work from home” for women. This may be utilized after the expiry of the 26 weeks’ leave period but will depend on the nature of work upon mutually agreed terms with the employer.
  5. The amendment also makes Crèche Facility a mandatory provision for every establishment which employs 50 or more employees.
    The women employees can visit the crèche 4 times during the working hours.
  6. Most importantly, the amendment makes it essential for the employers to educate its women employees about the laws and maternity benefits available to them, in writing and electronically, at the time of their appointment.

What is the Possible Impact of the Amendment?

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2016 is being considered as a historic step though it brings with itself unforeseeable outcomes which will not be for the benefit to the women workforce in the country. It is possible that it may bring down the willingness of the employers to add more women to the workforce and may act as an excuse to lay off the existing ones.

The reason for such a mindset is the increased gap between the cost to the company for males and females. The amendment mandates the crèche facility and increases the paid leave period to a period of 26 weeks. These two provisions singly increase the cost that the employer shall; bear for a temporary employee and a fully operational crèche.

In addition to these, the following may become prevalent in the workplaces:

  1. Increased preference for engaging male employee who comes will be of lower cots
  2. Reduction in the upfront salary offered to the female employees since the benefits are being increased.
  3. Increased contractual employment in the formal sector
  4. Increase in the informal employment of women.

With such observations, one can easily assume that even though the intention of the government was to encourage the women workforce, it may even bring a negative impact, especially in the informal sector.


The provisions of the Amendment Act unquestionably require further precision in the following matters amongst others:

  1. The time period up to which the crèche facility would be available to the concerned woman, as well as the frequency, and extent of nursing breaks.
  2. Whether the increased maternity benefits shall apply to the women who are presently undergoing maternity leave.
  3. What can be other modes to educate the women about the entitlement of maternity benefits?

It is expected of the Ministry to come out of clarifications.

For information related to Maternity Benefit Amendment visit us at Enterslice.

Narendra Kumar

Experienced Finance and Legal Professional with 12+ Years of Experience in Legal, Finance, Fintech, Blockchain, and Revenue Management.

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