India is a developing country and it is focusing on strengthening the corporate sector. People of India are contributing to the development of corporate sector. Not only men but also women are contributing towards the development of Indian economy. Women are no longer limited to household chores; they are serving corporates, institutions, organizations and every field. To encourage the women and to take care of their health, Indian Government has enacted various legislations. Among various schemes come under various acts for women, maternity benefit is an important scheme for women, which plays an important role for the welfare of women. For providing maternity benefit, there are two enactments in India one is the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 and second is the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948. In both the Acts, a woman who is qualified to claim maternity benefits shall be entitled to receive wages at the daily rate for all days on which she does not work for remuneration during a period of twelve weeks of which not more than six weeks shall precede the expected date of confinement. Government of India has decided to increase this period from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for which a bill “the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016” was presented last year and Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, gave its ex-post facto approval to it. However it is still pending and yet to be notified.
Meanwhile Central Govt. has notified an amendment rules to Employees’ State Insurance (Central) Rules, 1950. And the Employees’ State Insurance (Central) Amendment Rules, 2017 has been come into force on 20th January, 2017. Following changes have been done by this amendment:-
1. Insertion of definition of the expression “insured woman”-
“insured woman” means a woman who is or was an employee in respect of whom contribution is or were
payable under the Act and who is by reason thereof, entitled to any of the benefits provided under the Act and shall include–
(i) A commissioning mother who as biological mother wishes to have a child and prefers to get embryo
implanted in any other woman;
(ii) A woman who legally adopts a child of upto three months of age ;
2. Maximum period of maternity benefit has been increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks-
In rule 56, in sub-rule (2),–
(i) for the words “ twelve weeks of which not more than six weeks”, the words “twenty-six weeks of which not more than eight weeks” shall be substituted;
(ii) after the first proviso, the following provisos shall be inserted, namely:–
“Provided further that the insured woman shall be entitled to twelve weeks of maternity benefit from the date the child is handed over to the commissioning mother after birth or adopting mother, as the case may be:
Provided also that the insured woman having two or more than two surviving children shall be entitled to receive maternity benefits during a period of twelve weeks of which not more than six weeks shall precede the expected date of confinement.”
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