The Maternity Benefit Act 1961 (MB Act) was amended vide the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017 (2017 Amendment). As a part of the 2017 Amendment, the mandatory requirement of a crèche facility was made effective from 1 July 2017. It was prescribed that every establishment with 50 (fifty) or more employees is mandatorily required to provide a crèche facility within such distance as may be prescribed, either separately or along with common facilities. However, several aspects concerning crèche facility like costs, facilities to be provided therein, distance of facility from the place of establishment, etc were not addressed as no rules or guidelines were notified. Our earlier update on the amendment to the MB Act can be accessed here.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India (MoL) vide notification dated 12 February 2018 has published the draft Maternity Benefit (Crèche in the Mine Establishments) Rules 2018 (Draft Rules) and has invited public comments. The Draft Rules are available here.
Key Highlights of the Draft Rules
- The Mines Crèche Rules 1966 (Mines Rules) issued under the Mines Act 1952 shall mutatis mutandis be the rules made under MB Act, subject to certain modifications that are provided in the Draft Rules.
- The distance of the crèche facility shall not be more than 500 (five hundred) meters from the entrance gate of the establishment.
The Mines Rules already contain detailed conditions on specifications, age of children, distance, staff, medical arrangements, etc to be provided in the crèche facilities in mines.
It would be reasonable to infer that the Draft Rules will apply only to mine establishments for the following reasons:
- The title of the Draft Rules is Maternity Benefit (Crèche in the Mine Establishments) Rules 2018.
- Section 28 of the MB Act provides that the appropriate government may make rules for carrying out the purposes of the MB Act. As per Section 3(a) of the MB Act, the appropriate government for mines or establishment wherein persons are employed for the exhibition of equestrian, acrobatic and other performances is the Central Government and for all other establishments, the appropriate government is the State Government. The MoL in November 2017 had also issued a directive requesting the State Governments to issue rules governing amenities and facilities to be provided in the crèche facilities. The letter of the MoL dated 17 November 2017 is available here.
Since, the Draft Rules are made by the Central Government which is the appropriate authority for mine establishments, it can be interpreted that the Draft Rules apply only to mine establishments. Some confusion, however, has arisen due to use of the word ‘establishment’ in paragraph 3 of the Draft Rules. Therefore, a clarification on this aspect is warranted to avoid ambiguity in respect of application of the Draft Rules to other establishments.