Men are typically linked with employment outside the home, whereas women are typically associated with domestic duties or work inside the home. Men are typically linked with being the sole provider for the family or with economic productivity because of this presumption. This perspective has influenced the workplace culture and laws, and it is even represented in existing legislation, such as the Indian Factory Act of 1948, which defines the terms “labor” and “man.” Many people ignore the reality that women perform a significant amount of free labor within their houses and communities as a result of this viewpoint. It is nothing new for women to contribute to society. Given that they are expected to perform such labor, their contribution has gone unnoticed. For instance, performing manual labor around the house. They provide household and cooking work but are underappreciated since they are not paid, which prevents them from boosting the economy.
THE TRUTH ABOUT WOMEN WHO WORK
Despite the fact that most homes still experience this, more women are entering the workforce as a result of mounting economic pressure, allowing for the creation of dual-income households. Women have historically and from the beginning been an unnoticed force in the workforce, but today this is changing. However, even though more women are entering the workforce, they are still viewed as being responsible for the main task of household duties and child care. When they are pregnant or have children to care for, this scenario becomes much more difficult. Few employees are understanding this circumstance and are unwilling to be flexible regarding childcare and hours so that they can care for the children, or willing to provide paid maternity leave. It has become crucial that there be a set law in order to enforce specific ethics in order to support women because many businesses and factories are insensitive to the special demands of women during pregnancy. All employees are guaranteed the right to maternity leave thanks to the passage of these numerous legislations. We’ll talk about the different laws and criticisms of them in this post.
IN INDIA, WHAT DOES MATERNITY LEAVE ENTAIL?
In India, pregnant working women have the right to maternity leave, which is paid time off for the purpose of caring for their unborn child. With this kind of leave, the woman is still able to work and maintain her employment while caring for the baby at the house. According to the guidelines of the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961, maternity leave is offered in India.
THE NECESSITY OF MATERNITY LEAVE
Women have been stigmatized because they must take maternity leave because of their inherent incapacity. This is due to the fact that they are required to take time off before and after the birth of their child. Employees used to terminate women if they believed that maternity leave is required, or the fact that the employee was pregnant interfered with their ability to function. Consequently, they would take unpaid leave in order to escape getting dismissed. Women who worked in labor-intensive or otherwise demanding jobs occasionally had to put in extra hours to make up for being pregnant or having taken maternity leave, which was harmful to both the mother’s and the child’s health. Consequently, these regulations were implemented to alleviate any kind of burden on women.
MATERNITY BENEFIT ACT, 1961
According to the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961, working women may take up to three months of maternity leave. In addition, this law ensures that working women have the right to be paid during maternity leave. The amount due to her is equivalent to the typical daily salary for the time she was really away from work. According to the law, she needed to have worked for 80 days in the 12 months before the projected day she gave birth in order to be eligible for benefits. No employer is permitted to hire a woman under this law six weeks after the woman gives birth, experiences a miscarriage, or has a baby who has been medically terminated. It would be against the law for any employer to terminate or fire a woman employee for taking pregnancy leave if she satisfies all the requirements set forth in this act. Later changes were made to this law.
NO ALLOWANCE WAS MADE FOR THE SURROGATE MOTHER
The Act is similar to legislation in the UK, France, Canada, and Sweden in that it grants leave to women who adopt infants under three months old and commission mothers. It’s unclear from the amendment what will happen to a woman who adopts a child who is more than three months old and whether or not she will be given leave. The Legislation also makes no mention of the surrogate moms whose wombs are being exploited by commissioning mothers. Several medical procedures, such as a C-section, are required of surrogate mothers when they rent out their wombs and deliver the baby. Besides physical agony, being removed from a child you carried causes emotional pain. In order to at least recover from medical operations, surrogate mothers should be granted some type of leave.
In the modern era, it is crucial that women receive adequate pregnancy leave in order to protect both their own health and the health of their unborn children. Maternity leave has this innate quality, making it a highly pressing matter that the federal government has addressed very seriously. They extended pregnancy leave from 12 to 26 weeks, which was a highly progressive move. Despite the fact that this is a welcome development, there are still complaints about the revision, and it appears that India still needs to address a number of other concerns in the pregnancy leave discussion.
Author’s Name: Muskan Kumari (Army Law College, Pune)