The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, which introduces key changes to the maternity benefits set out under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (the Act), received presidential assent on 27 March 2017 and has now mostly come into force. Is your company compliant?

Key changes for employers

From 1 April 2017, the following key changes apply to all organisations with at least 10 employees: paid maternity leave is enhanced from 12 to 26 weeks, up to eight of which can be taken before delivery, in respect of

the employee's first two children (for subsequent births, employees will be entitled to 12 weeks' paid maternity leave, as is the position under the current law); adopting mothers (being a woman who legally adopts a child below the age of three months) and commissioning mothers (being a biological mother whose egg is used to create an embryo implanted in another woman) are entitled to 12 weeks' paid maternity leave, commencing from the date upon which the child is handed over to the employee; depending on the nature of the work, provided that a female employee has utilised her maternity leave entitlements, employers have the option to allow the employee to work from home on conditions mutually agreed; and employers must inform every female employee of her rights under the Act, both in writing and electronically, at the commencement of her employment.

From 1 July 2017, in addition to the requirements above, establishments with 50 or more employees will be required to provide crche facilities within a prescribed distance, either separately or along with common facilities, and must allow female employees to make four visits a day to the crche. The Indian Ministry of Labour and Employment is expected in the coming months to consider and to publish guidance and recommendations relating to the detail and logistics of the provision of crche facilities.

You can read our previous update on these changes here.

Compliance

The provisions of the 2017 are now (or, in respect of crche facilities, will soon be) in force. Employers should therefore:

1. review their employment policies and employment contracts to assess if updates are required;

2. update these to reflect the new maternity benefit entitlements and obligations;

3. develop policies setting out how female employees may work from home; and

4. by 1 July 2017, develop policies on the mandatory creche facilities.