Maternity Leave Rules in India 2024


Maternity Leave Rules in India 2024

Maternity leave plays a crucial role in empowering working women in India. It allows them some precious time off from work responsibilities to bond with and take care of their newborn baby. The duration of paid maternity leave in India has seen a significant increase over the years with recent amendments to labour laws.

Maternity Leave in India: The 2017 Reform

As per the Maternity Benefit Amendment Bill, 2017, female employees are now entitled to 26 weeks of paid maternity leave, which is an increase from the 12-week leave earlier. This landmark reform aims to support working mothers both physically and emotionally after childbirth. It enables them to fulfil their responsibilities towards their child's early developmental needs while maintaining job security.

By providing an extended maternity leave period, organisations can foster a progressive work culture with family-friendly policies. This also improves employee retention in the long run. In this article, let’s examine the maternity leave provisions in India in detail and their importance along with benefits.

Understanding Maternity Leave Rules in India

Maternity Leave is a provision made by the Indian Government under the Maternity Benefit Act, of 2017. It safeguards the health and well-being of both pregnant female employees and their newborn babies. The Act defines maternity leave as a period of fully paid leave that expectant and nursing mothers are entitled to take from their employers.

It provides support to working women during and after pregnancy by enabling them to temporarily cease employment duties to care for themselves and their children. Maternity leave rules in India for private companies and public sectors are the same. The leave can be availed by women employees in both types of organisations with 10 or more workers.

The amendment in 2017 significantly improved upon the previous Maternity Act of 1961. It specifies the entitlement of women to different categories of maternity leave and benefits. To be eligible for the benefit, certain criteria regarding employment must be fulfilled.

Eligibility Criteria for Maternity Leave in India

To be eligible for maternity leave in India, certain criteria of maternity leave rules in India must be met. Those include:

  1. The employee should have worked for at least 80 days in the 12 months preceding the expected delivery date. This is the foremost norm of maternity leave eligibility in India.
  2. Pregnant women, those opting for adoption or experiencing miscarriage, are eligible. Even miscarriage leave for government employees is allowed.
  3. Medical Termination of Pregnancy or miscarriage is payable for 6 weeks, or 42 days, from the date of miscarriage. 
  4. Surrogate/ commissioning mothers get 26 weeks' leave from the date the newborn is handed to adoptive parents.
  5. 26 weeks leave for the first two deliveries and 12 weeks for the subsequent deliveries are provided.
  6. Full salary is paid during the entire leave duration.
  7. Childcare leave and a guarantee to return to the same or equivalent post are provided.
  8. The Act applies to all organisations. Maternity leave in private sector is similar to that in the public sector. 
  9. Additional leaves on medical grounds are also provided for recovery under the maternity leave eligibility conditions.
  10. Amenities like hygienic washrooms, comfortable seating, and safe drinking water must be available at the workplace.

Importance of Maternity Leave Policy in India

Maternity leave laws are crucial in India, given the past discrimination faced by women workers. In the past, women were often let go of their jobs if they required time off for pregnancy or childbirth. As childbearing is a biological function, this amounted to unfair treatment resulting from gender bias. For young parents, balancing careers and family becomes a tightrope walk.

Maternity leave provisions are vital to protect women's economic empowerment and independence. By upholding their right to paid time off for pregnancy, new laws safeguard women's livelihoods and curb workplace discrimination. Considering women make up almost half the population, it is important they receive dignity and facilities irrespective of work.

Implementing maternity benefits enables women to fulfil both reproductive and professional duties efficiently. Without such provisions, they may have to compromise on health or income while pregnant. Traditional mindsets still view childrearing as solely a woman's role. Thus, paid leave allows the workforce to balance family responsibilities.

>> Also Read: How to Claim the Maternity Cover in Health Insurance?

What are the Benefits of the Maternity Leave Policy?

The Maternity Benefit Act in India includes the following:

  • The rate of maternity benefits is 100% of the average daily wages. Paid leave for 6 months for first two children and 3 months for subsequent ones.
  • Many companies provide maternity insurance to their staff members as part of their group health insurance plans.
  • Lighter duties and limited hours in the last 10 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Employers cannot fire/dismiss an employee solely due to pregnancy, labour or recovery.
  • Childcare provisions ensure the holistic well-being of mothers and babies.
  • Additional leave days if unable to resume after the initial period.
  • Access to amenities like hygienic toilets, seating and drinking water at the workplace.
  • Payment of a minimum of INR 6,000 under the National Food Security Act 2013.
  • HR can support through flexible hours, counselling, and wellness programs.

Rules of Maternity Leave Policy in India

The maternity leave policy in India includes:

  • Access to full compensation for women employees during maternity leave.
  • Compensation is calculated based on salary/wages in the 3 months prior to leave application.
  • A minimum of 80 days of employment in the 12 months before delivery/adoption is required.
  • Maximum 26 weeks leave for the first two deliveries and 12 weeks for subsequent deliveries, including up to 8 weeks before the expected delivery date.
  • Payment during leave is equal to the average daily wage rate for the actual leave period.
  • Various labour laws like the Employer State Insurance Act, 1948, Maternity Benefit (Mines and Circus) Rules, 1963, Central Civil Service Rules, 1972, Mines Act, 1952, and Factory Act, 1948 outline procedures and compliances for employers on maternity health of employees.

Key Aspects to Consider while Applying for Maternity Leave in India

In order to ensure a smooth and hassle-free maternity leave experience, it is essential to consider certain aspects. Here you go:

1. Compliance

Familiarise yourself thoroughly with the company's maternity leave policy, procedures and documentation requirements. Understanding internal guidelines is important.

2. Details in Application

Include all relevant particulars like duration of leave requested, stating it is for maternity-related reasons such as delivery and newborn care.

3. Supporting Documents

Provide authentic proofs wherever required, for example, a medical certificate showing the expected delivery timeline. Supporting documents aid authentication and faster application processing.

4. Addressing the Application

Address your application to your direct manager or the designated leave approvals authority in the organisation. This ensures it reaches the appropriate person for processing.

5. Timely Submission

For a smooth process, submit your application at least two months prior to the intended leave start date. This gives sufficient time to make arrangements in your absence.


Maternity is a natural process, and maternity leave in India helps in empowering women professionals and promoting gender equality in the workplace. Providing extended paid leaves for childbearing and childcare facilitates a balance between career and family responsibilities.

While India has strengthened its maternity benefits steadily over the decades, full compliance and awareness remain areas that need more attention. If implemented in letter and spirit, the laws can truly transform social attitudes while nurturing millions of mothers and children.

Additionally, if you are planning to start a family soon, then buying a maternity insurance cover or adding it to your existing health insurance plan can prove to be a very smart step.

Maternity insurance from Care Health Insurance provides exclusive coverage during a medical emergency. Care Joy is a pregnancy plan designed carefully for new parents and parents-to-be. Along with expecting mothers, you get coverage for your little bundle of joy as well. So, plan your maternity and savings smartly today to avoid consequences in the future.

Disclaimers: The above information is for reference purposes only: Policy Assurance and Claims at the underwriter's discretion.

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FAQs on Maternity Leave in India

Are there any maternity leave rules in India?

To safeguard the interest of the pregnant female and her newborn baby, the Indian Government offers provision for maternity leave under the Maternity Benefit Act, 2017.

I joined a new company 2 months ago. Will I be eligible for the maternity leave rules in India for private companies?

The maternity leave rules state that the female employee should have worked for a minimum of 80 days in the 12 months preceding the expected delivery date.

What is the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act?

Welcomed as a prominent reform, the Maternity Benefit Amendment Bill, 2017, now allows female employees a paid maternity leave of up to 26 weeks. Earlier it was for 12 weeks only.

Is maternity leave paid in India?

Yes, this is a paid leave.

What is the maternity leave duration in India?

The amendment in the maternity rules increased the maternity leave days in India from 12 weeks earlier, to 26 weeks or 6 months for the first two deliveries. However, for every subsequent delivery, maternity leave will come down to 3 months or 12 weeks.

Are maternity leave rules in India applicable for adopted babies?

Yes, women who are adopting also have the eligibility for maternity leave in India.

Do surrogate mothers get the benefit of maternity leave in India?

Yes. As per the Maternity Benefit Act, surrogate mothers also get 26 weeks of maternity leave from the date the baby is handed to the adoptive parents.


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