Maternity Leave - A bridge to build a good career for women
Motherhood is one of the most challenging but beautiful period in a woman’s life. It is only during pregnancy that a girl evolves into a woman. But does pregnancy necessarily mean the end of a woman’s career? In present times the maternity policies of most companies enable and encourage women to balance their role as mothers as well as fulfil their career dreams and aspirations.
The maternity leave rule require a woman to have worked in the company for a minimum of 80 days in order to enjoy the benefits of the maternity policy of the respected company. The HR policies for pregnant women differ from company to company. The maternity leave may extend from three to six months depending upon the company’s HR policy. Certain organizations even extend the maternity leave for their women employees to one year with or without pay. In case of an abortion or miscarriage a woman employee is granted six weeks leave by law. The thinking of most companies has evolved over time and this is reflected in the various facilities that most companies offer to their women employees. They provide facilities to the women employees to work from home as well as offer them flexibility of working hours. Certain IT sector companies even provide for day care facilities for their employees.
The Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 ensured that women employees cannot be sacked from a company simply because of her pregnancy. If the Employees state Insurance schemes cover a company then that company is obliged to provide the women employees of the company with the maternity benefits. If a woman employee is deprived of the maternity benefits by her employer within sixty days from the date of receiving the orders then she is at liberty to take legal action against her employer. If any employer denies the maternity benefits to his/her women employees then that is a punishable offence under the maternity benefit act of 1961. The punishment may include imprisonment for three months or a fine extending to Rs.5000 or both. Maternity benefits may only be revoked by the company if the woman employee resigns from the company. As per the maternity benefit act, the women employees are also given the right to ask the organization, they are working for, to provide them light jobs during their pregnancy period. These include working in certain sections that do not involve long standing hours as well as those that do not involve the risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals.
Today the human resource development of many companies has designed policies to make pregnancy a less taxing experience for their women employees. The nurturing that a newborn requires can be only provided by a mother and the law recognizes this. This outlook is shared and respected by the corporate sector as well and they strive hard to provide the women employees with the necessary support they require during pregnancy in the form of medical benefits and leaves. They try to make the work environment less stressful for the mothers-to-be. These policies allow women to pursue their career even after child-birth, thus enabling them to strike a balance between their roles as a mother as well as a professional in the corporate sector.