Understanding maternity leaves: What's legitimate and what's not

Maternity leave is a type of leave given for pregnant women to look after the newborn baby in the initial stages of infancy. This includes the last few weeks of pregnancy also known as prenatal leave. For the entire period of the maternity break, the employee is also eligible for full compensation from her establishment. Maternity leave act was amended in 2017.

Duration of maternity leave

As per the changes made to the Maternity Benefit Act in 2016, the maternity leave duration allowed is now changed to 26 weeks, as compared to the previous time period of 12 weeks. Pre natal leave is changed to 12 weeks. For women with two or more children, The leave duration allowed is less – the maternity leave, is for 12 weeks and prenatal leave is 6 weeks.

A woman must have been employed at the establishment for at least 80 days in the last 12 months to be eligible for the Maternity Benefit Act,

Starting maternity leave

A pregnant employee can take her maternity leave up to 8 weeks before the delivery date.

Applying for maternity leave

Most companies have their own procedure for leave application, including maternity leave. Maternity leave is usually taken a few weeks before the delivery date.

Paid and unpaid maternity leave

The extension of maternity leave depends upon the circumstances that the mother or/and child may face. According to legislation, a period of 26 weeks, is paid leave. After 26 weeks, any leave is usually considered as unpaid leave if it is granted by the employer.

Extension of maternity leave

If an employee needs an extension of maternity leave for health reasons, the employee should provide proof of this requirement, a medical certificate from a doctor or an equivalent document. The company can ascertain the reasons and grant the extension accordingly. However, the leave may be considered as unpaid.

Under the new amendment, if the maternity leave is over, the employee can take the option of working from home. This depends on the company she works for. Getting back to work after maternity leave is usually the toughest time for any mother. Having a good caregiver for the baby and a backup plan will help to smoothen this transition phase.

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