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Sacking a Pregnant Employee – A Violation of Maternity Benefit Act

Ranjita Rabha, a 35-year-old journalist with an experience of more than 13 years was told a month ago by Prag News that 'they had no expectations from her as she is pregnant'. She was additionally approached to put down her papers from the association and not go to the office any longer. Her plea for leave without pay was allegedly turned down by the channel. Rabha has guaranteed that it was no other than Prag CMD Mr. Narain who disclosed to her that the organization has no facility for maternity leave and no compensation will be paid. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, clearly provides paid maternal leaves to females for 12 weeks.

The Maternity Benefit Act is perhaps the best step taken by the government to secure women's employment while they experience their Maternity. Maternity Benefit is essentially the advantage of getting full paid absence from work. This advantage is given to the women with the intention to help her in taking care of her kid. According to the government rules, each establishment having at least 10 workers need to apply this act in the organization.

In 1917, Gandhiji said the lack of inclusion of women in the Independence movement made it weak in light of the fact that "the country walks with one leg as it were". A hundred years later, Mahatma could have offered that statement once more, this time about the Indian economy, and not be wrong.

According to section 12 of the Maternity Benefit Act of 1971, the excusal of a woman during pregnancy is unlawful and such businesses can be punished. The National Commission for Women (NCW) in May, gave a statement condemning this act by Prag news calling it an insensitive disposition towards its women employee who has been working with the association since 2007. "Of the considerable number of privileges of women, one is of motherhood. Be that as it may, a recent incident from Assam uncovered the double standards of companies towards its expecting employees," the NCW statement read. Reports said that Rabha was solicited to quit in the month of May as the channel said her pregnancy limits her capacity to function according to the requirements of the channel.

The benefits women are entitled to and the rights they can claim under maternity. An employer can't dismiss a female employee for taking maternity leave and can't serve a termination letter to a woman on maternity leave which expires before the maternity leave ends. An employer is required to inform women in writing, electronically about the maternity benefits accessible under the Maternity Benefit Act upon their joining the workforce.

The law permits women employees to work from home notwithstanding the maternity benefit period if the nature of work permits that so as to ensure the privileges of female workers during pregnancy and after labour, Indian law makes it required for most companies to offer maternity benefit to women employees. Maternity benefit in India is mainly governed by the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 that applies to all shops and establishments with at least 10 workers. Those women who work in industrial facilities with at least 10 labourers are given maternity benefits as accessible under the Employees' State Insurance Act, 1948.

Remember that employers are required to inform women employees in writing and electronically about the maternity benefits accessible under the Maternity Benefit Act upon their joining the workforce.

Given that women frequently feel left out or face predispositions during pregnancy or after childbirth in their work environment, it is significant for them to know the advantages they can profit from and the rights under the law. Further, maternity benefit and the medical bonus will have to be paid to a woman who is discharged or dismissed during pregnancy unless it is for gross misconduct.

The incident triggered a social media outrage with numerous users censuring the act about as inhumane and merciless. The Indian Union of Journalist (IJU) expressed genuine worries at the excusal of the service of Ranjita by the management of Prag news. IJU called this an instance of "gender discrimination" and inadmissible. The Network for Women in Media, India (NWMI) said that it emphatically censures the victimization of female journalists over pregnancy and motherhood and such disposition just serves to make an antagonistic domain in the working environment. In the meantime, a group of senior journalists in Assam has asked the state chief minister to investigate the issue and demanded justice for Ranjita.

There is no doubt that the lack of quality child care is a major factor when women choose not to return to work after childbirth.

The new amendment should be helpful, but clearer rules need to be promulgated for employers as quickly as possible.


Anurag Nagar is currently pursuing MBA-Law from the School of Business Management, NMIMS, Mumbai.

You can contact them at nagar.anurag15@nmims.edu.in

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anurag-nagar-8604b282/

Edited by: Arushi Gupta

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