Benefit Act, 1961
regulates employment of women in certain establishments
for a certain period before and after childbirth and provides for maternity
and other benefits. Such benefits are aimed to protect the dignity of
motherhood by providing for the full and healthy maintenance of women
and her child when she is not working. The Act is applicable to mines,
factories, circus industry, plantations, shops and establishments employing
ten or more persons, except employees covered under the Employees’
State Insurance Act, 1948
. It can be extended to other establishments
by the State Governments.
Industrial Relations Machinery (CIRM) in the Ministry
of Labour is responsible for enforcing this Act. CIRM is an attached
office of the Ministry and is also known as the Chief
Labour Commissioner (Central) [CLC(C)] Organisation. The CIRM is headed
by the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central).
The main provisions of the Act are:-
- No employer shall knowingly employ a woman in any establishment
during the six weeks immediately following the day of her delivery or
her miscarriage. Also, no woman shall work in any establishment during
the six weeks immediately following the day of her delivery or her miscarriage.
- Every woman shall be entitled to, and her employer shall
be liable for, the payment of maternity benefit at the rate of the average
daily wage for the period of her actual absence immediately preceding
and including the day of her delivery and for the six weeks immediately
following that day. The 'average daily wage' means the average of the
woman's wages payable to her for the days on which she has worked during
the period of three calendar months immediately preceding the date from
which she absents herself on account of maternity, or one rupee a day,
which ever is higher.
- No woman shall be entitled to maternity benefit unless
she has actually worked in an establishment of the employer from whom
she claims maternity benefit, for a period of not less than one hundred
and sixty days in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of
her expected delivery. For the purpose of calculating the days on which
a woman has actually worked in the establishment, the days for which
she has been laid off during the period of twelve months immediately
preceding the date of her expected delivery shall be taken into account.
- The maximum period for which any woman shall be entitled
to maternity benefit shall be twelve weeks, that is to say, six weeks
up to and including the day of her delivery and six weeks immediately
following that day.
- No deduction from the normal and usual daily wages of
a woman entitled to maternity benefit shall be made by reason only of
- (i) the nature of work assigned to her by virtue of the provisions
of the Act; or (ii) breaks for nursing the child allowed to her under
the provisions of the Act.
- If a woman works in any establishment after she has been
permitted by her employer to absent herself for any period, during such
authorised absence, she shall forfeit her claim to the maternity benefit
for such period.
- If any employer contravenes the provisions of this Act
or the rules made thereunder, he/ she shall be punishable with imprisonment
or with fine or with both; and where the contravention is of any provision
regarding maternity benefit or regarding payment of any other amount
and such maternity benefit or amount has not already been recovered,
the court shall, in addition recover such maternity benefit or amount
as if it were a fine and pay the same to the person entitled thereto.