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Everything You Need To Know About Maternity Leave & Benefits In India13 min read

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First off, congratulations on your big news.

The new phase of your life is super exciting, and we wish you all the health and happiness in the coming months. While you bask in the glory of being a mom-to-be and get addicted to the baby shopping section, we know there are several questions you need answering as well. If you are a working woman, the first question to pop up is: what’s next for my career?

There’s a lot to think about here. Do you wish to continue working, do you want to go from being a full-time employee to a part-time one, or will you balance it all? While those more significant decisions need time, a lot of self-interrogation and a look at your support system post having a baby, let’s talk about the most urgent matter right now: maternity leave.

You need to talk to your boss and your team about your big news, you need to hand over your duties to another employee for the next few months, you’ll need a lot more half days and medical leaves, thanks to gynecologist visits and your health, and you will have to restructure your finances and figure out how to give your little one the best of everything.

From Maternity Laws In India To The Amount Of Money You Will Be Paid, We’ve Covered It All.

This guide, in that case, is your best friend. From maternity laws in India to the amount of money you will get paid, to what it’s like to balance a baby and a career, we’ve covered it all. So, relax, put your feet up, munch on that piece of chocolate (come on, you are eating for two) and get all your questions answered.

Maternity Leave In India FAQs

We have tried to answer the most common questions regarding maternity leave & laws in India.

Questions and answers are organised according to topics. Please use this menu to navigate through the sections

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Maternity Leave Eligibility & How To Apply

Q. What Is The Eligibility For Maternity Leave In India?

To be eligible for maternity benefit, you need to have worked in the company for at least 80 days in the past 12 months. Even if you are on probation, or on contract, you are eligible for leave.

Q. When Can I Apply For Maternity Leave?

A female employee can take maternity leave only eight weeks before her due date of delivery.



Q. Can I Apply For Leave Earlier?

The law states that you can avail the maternity benefit only eight weeks before your date of delivery. However, as per your health condition and your relationship with your employee, you can go on leave earlier, or work part-time.

Q. How Do I Apply for Maternity Leave?

Most companies have their own processes for leave application. After talking to your immediate boss, talk to your HR to understand the application process.

Q. Can My Husband Apply For Paternity Leave?

There is no legal paternity clause in India for now. A proposed bill in the Indian Parliament is considering granting 15 days paternity leave extendable up to three months.

For Government sector employees, the Central Government has made provisions for paternity leave for 15 days. The father can avail this leave either seven days before or within six months from the date of delivery of the child.

Some Private Companies Have Already Enforced Paternity Leaves In India. For Example, Zomato Offers 26 Weeks Of Paid Leave To Both Women And Men.

Despite there being no set laws, some private companies have already enforced paternity leaves in India. For example, Microsoft offers 12 weeks of paternity leave whereas working with Facebook allows you 17 weeks of paternity leaves. UNICEF provides a leave period of 16 weeks. On the other hand, Infosys gives its employee five days off whereas TCS offers 15 days of paternity leave. Earlier in June this year, Zomato introduced a new global paternal leave policy wherein they will be offering 26 weeks of paid leave (or follow the government mandated policy if it’s more) to both men and women. The new parent(s) will also be given an endowment of $1000 per child as they welcome their new baby.

In 2009, when a private school teacher was denied paternity leave and had to suffer a deduction of salary, he approached the court. Despite there being no legislation, the court held that all male employees of unaided recognised private schools were entitled to paternity leave.

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Q. How Many Maternity Leaves Can I Get?

First-Time Moms And Mothers Having A Second Child: The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act has increased the duration from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. You can avail this for a period extending up to a maximum of eight weeks before the expected delivery date and the remaining time can be availed post childbirth.

Mother Having A Third Child: For women who are having their third child, the duration of paid maternity leave is 12 weeks; six weeks pre and six weeks post expected date of delivery.

Surrogacy And Adoption: For mothers who are having their baby via surrogacy and who are adopting a child below the age of three months, a maternity leave of 12 weeks is available.

Miscarriage Or Abortion: In case of miscarriage or medical termination of the pregnancy leave up to six weeks is permitted. In the case of a tubectomy operation, a female employee can take two weeks off.

The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act has increased the duration from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.

Q. How Many Leaves Can Government Employees in India Get?

As per the Central Civil Service (Leave) Rules, women employed in government jobs in India get six-month maternity leave. Moreover, you can take childcare leave of up to two years in phases, at any point till your child turns 18 years old. The Seventh Pay Commission states that if you do avail of that benefit, you will get your full salary in the first year, and 80 per cent salary in the second year.

Q. When Do I Have To Return To Work After My Maternity Leave? 

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Maternity Leave Benefits in India

Q. How Much Do I Get Paid During Maternity Leave?

You are entitled to your full salary during your maternity leave.

Q. Will My Employer Pay My Medical Bills?

You are entitled to a maternity benefit in the form of a medical bonus of Rs. 1000 if there’s no prenatal confinement, and post-natal care is provided by the employer free of charge. It can be increased to a maximum limit of Rs. 20,000.

From 10 weeks before your due date, you do not have to do arduous work, stand for long hours or be asked to do any other work that may cause physical problems.

If your company has a group insurance policy, then hospitalisation expenses are covered under that. If you are not claiming the bills from your employer, your husband can claim it from his workplace.

Companies usually reimburse hospitalisation expenses for two deliveries.

Q. Can I Ask For Workload Reduction During Pregnancy?

Yes, you can. The law states that from 10 weeks before your due date, you do not have to do arduous work, stand for long hours or be asked to do any other work that may cause physical problems.

Q. Can I Start A New Job While I Am On Maternity Leave?

Yes, you can. However, you will not be entitled to maternity benefits from your new company. Your previously company will pay you only till your last actual working day in the company.

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Maternity Leave Rights In India

Q. What If My Company Does Not Offer Maternity Benefit?

The Maternity Act applies to all mines, plantations, shops, establishments, and factories employing 10 or more employees, whether in the organised or unorganised sector. If your company does not fall under this, you can avail of the Employees’ State Insurance (ESI), a self-financing social security and health insurance scheme. The ESI applies to employees earning Rs. 15,000 or less per month. You also need to have worked for a minimum period of 70 days in the company in the last two consecutive years.

The Maternity Act Is Applicable To All Mines, Plantations, Shops, Establishments, And Factories Employing 10 Or More Employees, Whether In The Organised Or Unorganised Sector.

Women employed in newspapers or working as journalists are also entitled to maternity leave of three months under the Working Journalists (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955. Similarly, female employees working in factories are entitled to three months of maternity leaves with full wages under the Factories Act, 1948.

Q. What If My Employer Refuses to Give Me Maternity Leave Or Asks Me To Quit?

This is against the law. If your employer refuses to give you maternity leave or forces you to quit, you have the right to fight against it. First up, get the HR involved. If there is any confusion, or if your manager is acting difficult the HR can step in and clear things out. If this doesn’t resolve matters, you can send a legal notice to your company after consulting a lawyer. You can also file a case in the Labour court against your company.

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After Maternity Leave

Q. What Happens When My Maternity Leave Is Over?

Once the 26 weeks leave is over, you can work from home, as per the law. The terms of this arrangement, however, must be mutually agreed on between you and your employer.

Q. What About Crèche Facilities?

Once you are back from work, you can avail of the crèche facility that is mandatory for every establishment employing 50 or more employees to provide. Mothers are permitted to visit the crèche four times during the day, including the interval for rest allowed to her.

Q. Will I Be Paid If I Extend My Maternity Leave Beyond 26 Weeks?

The extension depends on the health of the child and the mother. You can submit medical proof and get an extension. However, post 26 weeks, the leave is usually unpaid.

In Case If You Extend Your Leave Because Of Medical Reasons Then You Are Entitled To An Additional 30 Days Paid Leave.

In case if you extend your leave because of medical reasons, then you are entitled to an additional 30 days paid leave. However, you will need to submit all medical documents to your employer.

Depending on your HR policies, you can also avail of your leave balance. Some companies allow the employee to club her Casual Leave(CL)/Sick Leave(SL) /Earned Leave(EL) with her maternity leaves.

Leave Without Pay (LWP) shall only be allowed if you have no credit balance of SL (Sick Leave) or EL (Earned Leave). However, this also depends on your company’s HR policies and your relationship with your manager.

how to break the news of pregnancy to your work colleagues

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Announcing Pregnancy And Planning Leave

Q. How To Break The News To Your Team?

Announcing your pregnancy to friends and family can be super exciting. However, your colleagues may not share the same level of enthusiasm or extend the same support. Fair enough, as they are the ones who have to figure out an effective way to manage without you for the next few months. However, you do need to tell them about this new development as early as possible, as they will have to either find your replacement or find a way to work around your absence.

“It Is Her Choice On When She Wants To Inform The Team, But She May Want To Keep Her Manager Informed At Least 2-3 Months In Advance So That A Proper Handover Can Be Arranged. However, This Isn’t Enforceable As Per Law.” Saket Kumar, Head Human Resources, upGrad

Talk To Your Boss First

Make sure your boss is the first one to hear about your pregnancy as she is the one who has to decide how to run things without your presence in the team. “Ideally, it is her choice on when she wants to inform the team, but she may want to keep her manager informed at least 2-3 months in advance so that a proper handover can be arranged. However, this isn’t enforceable as per law,” shares Saket Kumar, Head of Human Resources, upGrad.

Take your manager out for lunch or schedule a meeting and drop the news. Prepare a list of discussion points and be honest about any upcoming medical leaves you may need during this time.

Talk to your boss about how you feel you can contribute to any pending and upcoming projects, and feel free to suggest names of who can take over in your absence.

Speak To The HR

Sit down with the HR next and figure out how to go about applying for your leave. Is there a company-specific form you need to fill, an email that has to be sent, signatures required, etc. Be clear about when you are going on leave and ask for all available documents on the maternity leave policy of the company.

Also, figure out how to manage things once you are back. Things like where you’ll pump, is there a crèche facility or a monetary benefit that you can claim, will you be allowed to work from home, or half-day for a few weeks after you are back?

Talk To Your Team

These are the people who are going to be taking on your work, and helping you make the transition into mommyhood. You need to have an honest conversation with them about your plans for the next few months. Give them the dates that you are not going to be around, speak to them about your work handover (more on that later), and make sure they have all the guidelines needed to take over your job.

Also, don’t forget to thank them.

Before you head out on your maternity leave, make sure you give a detailed handover to your team. It’s a good idea to keep a day aside, to brief everyone, introduce your replacement (if needed) to the team and iron out any possible issues.

Here’s a handy checklist that will ensure that you don’t forget anything. You can download a PDF version here.

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Returning to Work After Maternity Leave

Q. How To Request An Extension Post Maternity leave?

Post your delivery it is natural to want some time to settle in with your baby and your new role. While you do have your maternity leaves, in case if you want an extension or a work from home setup, here’s how you can navigate it.

Have A Conversation With Your Boss

The best thing to do is be honest with your manager. Call her up or set up a meeting and talk about everything that is worrying you or stopping you from coming to work just yet. Having a baby is a huge life change, and people understand that you may need more time to settle into your new role, so don’t feel guilty about asking for more time off.

Be Clear About Whether You Want An Extension In Terms Of Holidays, Or You Are Okay With Working From Home.

Be clear about whether you want an extension in terms of holidays, or you are okay with working from home. Clearly state the numbers of hours you can dedicate to the job, and whether or not you will be allowed to take holidays in case if your baby or you, are unwell.

Speak To The HR

Next up, talk to the HR and figure out your company’s policy. While the law states that you are entitled to extend your maternity leave, you and your employer need to reach an agreement.

If you have previous leaves (scroll up to check which leaves can be used along with your maternity leaves), see if you can club those and continue getting your full salary during the extension period.

Put It On Email

Post having a conversation with both your boss and your HR, send out an email so that everyone knows about the extension.

Here’s an example of a template you can use while asking for maternity leave extension.

Dear ABC,

I have been on maternity leave for X months, and I am having some trouble settling in just yet. I am looking to set up a foolproof home care system where I can leave my child, and be at work, without getting stressed. While that is in the process, can I request you to kindly extend my maternity leave, or look at having me contribute remotely, for a period of X months?

I would be very grateful, and I assure you that I will try my best to come back to work as soon as possible.

I regret any inconvenience this may cause.

Yours sincerely,

XYZ

What Happens If I Don’t Return To Work After Maternity Leave

Having a baby changes a lot of things, and if you feel that you need to take some time off, you can quit your job, either during your maternity leave or after your delivery.

Tell Your Boss You Want To Quit

The first step is to talk to your team and be honest about why you are doing this. Rather than sending an email, talk to them in person or set up a call. Have an honest conversation about why you cannot return to work just yet – you don’t need to give our personal details, just a general idea – and how you feel this is the best step for your family. If you think that you can dedicate a few hours to your job, instead of working full-time, talk to your boss about working part-time or from home.

While quitting during, or after maternity, people often end up concentrating on the policies rather than the relationship with the team. Don’t make that mistake, talk to your HR separately about payments and policies rather than bring it in, in a conversation with your manager or your team.

Also, don’t delay the process of quitting. Do it as soon as you are sure so that your manager can start looking for a replacement. Offer to help in whatever capacity you can, in terms of looking for a replacement and finishing off all your pending projects.

Do I Have To Serve My Notice Period? 

When you resign while you are on maternity, you don’t need to come in to serve your notice period. If you have a good relationship with your manager, you will probably not need to come in at all, except for a day or two to sign documents. However, if you resign after your maternity leave, you need to either use your leaves or lose your pay, depending on your company’s policies.

Lastly, don’t feel guilty about quitting your job. Deciding to take a break because of a baby is in no ways easy.

Q. What To Expect At Work Post Maternity Leave?

Coming back to work after your maternity leave can be extremely stressful. On the one hand, you have a tiny baby to think of, at all times, while on the other you have to re-engage yourself in the workforce.

You may need time to settle in your role, and that’s completely normal. “When I came back to work, after a year, I took a long time to settle in. I became slow with my work, and that can certainly get frustrating,” shares Karen Alfonso.

“Give yourself two months before things start becoming normal.” Sonal Bagal

The best thing to do here is to give yourself some time to settle in, rather than killing yourself trying to perfect two jobs, one of a mother and one of an employee. Sonal Bagal explains it best. “Give yourself two months before things start becoming normal. You will constantly worry about your child, and while there is nothing you can do about it, having a reliable system at home, where someone is caring for your child, helps ease your mind.” Both Sonal and Karen reached out to their parents to make sure that their child is well-cared for. “Having my mother take care of my baby was the biggest support. I could easily make the shift from stay-at-home mum for a year, to a working professional,” shares Karen.

If you don’t have the option of turning to your parents or other relatives, research other alternatives like your office-provided crèche, or a daycare centre that is close to work, so that you know that your child is well-cared for. Don’t shy away from asking for help; this is hard, and you will need all the support that you can get.

Also, once you are back, factor in breaks for things like pumping, as that can affect your workflow. “It took me over an hour to pump. So I made sure that I was super focused the rest of the time, and I ate my lunches on my desk to work that one-hour in,” shares Sonal.

“I love to take my coffee breaks and chat with my colleagues on a regular basis. However, post having a baby, I became more focused and certainly more productive,” says Karen. “I had to leave work at a certain time plus factor in the time it took for me to pump. So, I simply cut out everything unnecessary and only focused on completing my work and leaving on time.”

Also, remember you are coming back after six months or more, so you need to give yourself, and your team some time to get back in the groove. “You may have to start working from scratch, from a contextual understanding perspective as things may have changed at your workplace in six months,” says Saket. “Focus on getting into things slowly, one assignment at a time. You should also focus on rebuilding your relationships with key stakeholders, and your team,” he adds.

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Coming back to work, and maintaining a work-life balance is hard, however, give yourself the time for trial and error. Like these women say, hang in there, and it’ll all work out.

Enjoy this time, here’s wishing you a healthy pregnancy and all the luck for your new role.

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Feminist. Writer. Reader. That's the precise order in which Ainee functions daily. She has been writing for a decade now, and her primary interest lies in working on pieces that resonate with the modern Indian women, helping them discover their own identities. Apart from writing over 1000-words a day, she loves to sit by the beach and dream of a better world, while sipping on an adrak wali chai.

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