Currently, there are various labour laws that provide maternity benefits to women in different sectors. These laws differ in their coverage, benefits and financing of the benefits. The Second National Commission on Labour (2002) had recommended rationalisation of various labour laws with regard to providing social security, including maternity benefits. Table below details the various labour laws that provide maternity benefits.

Labour Laws across different sectors that provide maternity benefits

Labour Law applicable to



Maternity benefit provisions




Maternity Benefit Act, 1961

  •  Factories; mines; plantations;
  • Shops and establishments with more than 10 employees;
  • Other establishments notified by the state government.
  • 2 weeks (with full wages).
  • Employer.


Employees State

Insurance Act, 1948

  • All factories, other than seasonal factories;
  • Others establishments notified by the central or state government, and with employee salary at Rs 15,000 or less.*
  • 12 weeks (with full wages).*
  • Mixed. (Employer contribution: 4.75% of wages; Employee contribution 1.75% of wages)



All India Services

(Leave) Rules,1955

  • Indian Administrative Service;
  • Indian Police Service;
  • The Indian Service of Engineers (Irrigation, Power, Buildings and Roads);
  • The Indian Forest Service;
  • The Indian Medical and Health Service.
  • Women: 24 weeks, if less than two surviving children (with full wages);
  • Includes adoptive mothers;
  • Child care leave up to 730 days, for 2 children, until they turn 18 years (with full pay);
  • Men: 15 days, if less than two surviving children (with full pay).
  • Employer (central government).



Central Civil Services

(Leave) Rules, 1972

  • Government servants appointed to the civil services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union;
  • Railways servants, casual workers, industrial workers, etc. not covered.
  • Women: 180 days, if less than two surviving children (with full pay);
  • Adoptive mothers: 60 days, to be taken within one year, if less than 2 children.
  • Child care leave up to 730 days, for 2 children, until they turn 18 years (with full wages);
  • Men: 15 days, if less than two surviving children (with full pay).
  • Employer (central government).

The Factories Act, 1948

  • Workers employed in factories, as defined in the Act.
  • 12 weeks (with full wages).
  • Employer.

Working Journalists (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Rules, 1957

  • Women journalists employed in newspapers.
  • 3 months (with full wages).
  • Employer.

The Building and other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996

  • Building workers employed by an establishment with 10 or more buildings workers in any building or other construction work.
  • State welfare boards to make maternity benefit payments to female beneficiaries.
  • Mixed. [Payment through a fund with contributions from the central government, beneficiaries, and other sources.]

Unorganised Workers’  Social

Security Act, 2008

  • Enterprises engaged in the sale of goods or services with less than 10 employees.
  • Directs the central government to formulate schemes for maternity benefits.
  • Central government.

India: Uttarakhand HC Strikes Down Rule Denying Maternity Leave For Third Child As Unconstitutional [Read Order]
Writ Petition No. 1778 of 2015 (S/S)

The Uttarakhand High Court on Monday struck down as unconstitutional a State rule denying maternity leave to female government employees for their third child. The order was issued by Justice Rajiv Sharma on a petition filed by one Ms. Urmla Masih, challenging the second proviso to Fundamental Rule 153 of the Financial Hand Book of the U.P. Fundamental Rules, as adopted by the State of Uttarakhand. The proviso disentitled from maternity leave female government employees who have two or more living children.

Ms. Masih had applied for maternity leave for almost five months in 2015, but had been denied the same on the ground that maternity leaves can only be granted for the first two children and not for the third child.

Allowing the petition, the Court opined that the proviso runs contrary to Section 27 of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, which gives primacy to the Act when it comes to laws and agreements inconsistent with its provisions. It further ruled that the proviso goes against the letter and spirit of Article 42 of the Constitution of India, which stipulates that the State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.

Furthermore, Justice Sharma relied on the judgment in the case of Ruksana v. State of Haryana & others, wherein Punjab and Haryana High Court had struck down a similar Punjab Civil Services rule, which denied the benefit of maternity leave on the birth of a third child.

The petition was therefore allowed, with Justice Sharma ruling, “Thus, this Court is also of the considered view that second proviso of Fundamental Rule 153 is not in conformity with Section 27 of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 and is also against the spirit of Article 42 of the Constitution of India.

Accordingly, the writ petition is allowed. The proviso Second of the Fundamental Rule 153 of the U.P. Fundamental Rules, as adopted by the State of Uttarakhand is declared ultra vires and unconstitutional and the same is struck down.”

International Comparison of  Maternity Leave


Maternity Leave

Paternity Leave

Percentage of wages

Source of Funding


Act: 12 weeks

Bill: 26 weeks

No provision

Despite there being no legislation,15 days is allowed for male Govt Employee




52 weeks

14 consecutive


  • Women: 6 weeks paid at 90% of average weekly earnings; flat rate or 90% (whichever is less) for weeks 7-39; weeks 40-52 unpaid
  • Men: Flat rate benefit or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is less

Mixed (employers reimbursed up

to 92% by public funds)

South Africa

17 weeks

3 days

  • Women: 60%
  • Men: 100%
  • Women: Mixed (contributions from employer, employee, government)
  • Men: Employer Liability


16 weeks

7 days

100% for first and second child

Mixed (8 weeks employer and 8

weeks public funds)


17 weeks

5 days


  • Women: Mixed (contributions from employer, employee, government)
  • Men: Employer Liability


14 weeks

No provision


Employer contribution via

insurance scheme


16 weeks

11 days

100% up to a ceiling

Social insurance scheme


52 weeks

14 days

  • Women: 18 weeks at the federal minimum wage level
  • Men: Federal minimum wage

Public funds


17 weeks


No provision

55% for 15 weeks up to a ceiling

Public Funds


12 weeks


No provision


No provision


L’Oreal India enhances maternity leave to 26 weeks

L’Oreal India has enhanced maternity leave to 26 weeks from 14 weeks earlier in an effort to retain high-potential employees.

The new parental benefits include pre-commute assistance for expecting women employees starting from the sixth month of pregnancy and child care allowance for two years from the date of delivery. “The business case of an enhanced maternity leave policy and other parental benefits is to retain high potential talent, enhance productivity and make the company an attractive employer,” said Mohit James, director, human resources, L’Oréal India.

To help new mothers ease back into work, they can also avail of reduced work hours for two continuous weeks immediately after resuming work, said James. The policy also entitles fathers to paid leave of two weeks. Additionally, the adoption leave has been increased to 12 weeks for mothers and one week for fathers.

L’Oréal India will also offer flexible working options to each parent as well as pre- and post-natal support and employee well-being sessions and dedicated HR and management support..

Deloitte declares 26 weeks of maternity leave for women employees; PWC, EY, KPMG to follow suit

The labour ministry is busy putting the amended Maternity Benefit Act together that would entitle working women in private sectors to 26 weeks of maternity leave from the existing 12, the big four consulting firms have already taken a leap. While Deloitte has declared 26 weeks of maternity leave for its woman employees, PricewaterhouseCoopers, EY and KPMG are in the process of finalising such policies.A severe crunch of woman employees at the top has pushed these companies to not only extend the maternity leave benefit, but also in introducing a slew of other initiatives to retain the valuable resource.

To be piloted for the first time in India, EY is also working out a programme called 'Maternal Coaching', where all the women at the leadership and senior positions will be trained to coach other women in their teams before and after maternity leave on not quitting the job.PwC is planning to retain women who leave for maternity with an 'umbilical cord' of up to seven years or so. This would allow women on maternity leave to be on the rolls of the company without actively working and without pay. "Though this is in the pipeline, they intend to offer all the training and updates to the women who go on maternity leave so that they are connected with the firm.

Improved maternity benefits could prove counterproductive: Survey

A little over one year after India increased the maternity leave benefit to 26 weeks from 12 weeks, a survey said the move could be counterproductive to the cause of a diverse workplace in certain sectors unless other support measures are also undertaken.

According to a survey on the costs and benefits of the new regulations by leading employment services company TeamLease, at least 26 per cent of the 350 startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that responded said they will prefer hiring a male candidate, given the cost of the six-month maternity leave benefit. About 40 per cent of respondents said they will hire women but will consider whether such a cost is worth the candidate.

However, 39 per cent of organisations said the move will have a positive impact and will lead to a happier workforce but 35 per cent of the respondents said that the six-month maternity leave will impact both cost and profitability.

“While many of the startups and SMEs are progressive, a significant number seems to be considering the consequences of this regulation.” Plus, even when organisations do have a policy of non-discrimination in hiring, the recruiting manager could take a short-term view. Therefore, just changing the law is not enough; reinforcements are needed at multiple levels.

ET Bureau
Updated: May 01, 2018,