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Maternity Leave in India 2023 : Rules, Importance & Benefits


Pregnancy is a sacred time when a mother and her child bond while the child is developing, but this extends far beyond that. The journey from pregnancy to motherhood is something that every new mom wants to cherish.


However, what about soon-to-be mothers in the workforce, who are looking forward to embarking on their journey of motherhood. The support that Indian mothers receive, before and after they have a child, is ingrained in our Indian culture. Therefore, it makes sense to have the same focus on motherhood, even at the workplace. This is possible only with the Maternity Benefit Act sanctioned by the Indian government, which allows soon-to-be mothers to focus on their family, and take some time from work, in the form of maternity leave.


Maternity leave is a work-sanctioned period of absence that working women can utilise before and/or after they deliver a child. The Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 lays down the rules and regulations that concern maternity leave in India. In this Maternity Act, women who are eligible to take a maternity leave and who work at recognized organisations and factories can apply for maternity leave for up to 6 months. Women employees can take their maternity leave either before or after they deliver their child. Their maternity leave can also span a period before and after their delivery as well. During this leave period, the woman’s employer is required to pay the woman employee her salary in its entirety.


In addition to the standard maternity leave rules in India, employers can provide further maternity leave as a benefit to their women employees. The Maternity Benefit Act has been updated several times to safeguard and protect the interests of their women employees. This Act was updated as recently as 2017, and covers work from home or hybrid work models, in addition to allowing new mothers additional paid days off.


The Maternity Benefit Act in India supports women before and after the birth of their child. It safeguards and protects their interests and livelihood, and allows them to nurture their newborns while taking care of themselves.



The Maternity Benefit Act 1961 applies to all women employed in factories, mines, plantations, and organisations with 10 or more employees. Learn more about eligibility for maternity leave in India in this section.


Prerequisite for Proof of Work 


The Maternity Benefit Act 1961 states that a woman should have worked with her employer for at least 80 days in the 12 months preceding the date of her expected delivery. If she fulfils this requirement, then she can utilise this mandated maternity leave and any further leave or benefits that her employer provides her.


Eligibility of Motherhood in India 


All women who are pregnant, adopting a child, or experiencing a miscarriage are eligible for maternity leave in India, as they fulfil the criteria that determine the categories of motherhood in India. Commissioning, or surrogate mothers, are also entitled to up to 26 weeks of maternity leave which starts from the day the newborn is handed over to the adoptive parents.


Companies and Fields Covered in Maternity Leave 


Maternity Leave in India is available to women employees in the public and private sectors. Their rights are protected under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. The Maternity Act covers all establishments that employ 10 or more people, and provides for the payment of maternity benefit to female employees when they need to use their maternity leave while they are pregnant or during childbirth and beyond.


However, the Indian Maternity Benefit Act, does not apply to women who are self-employed, or at workplaces that have less than 10 employees.


  • Pregnant women

  • Women adopting a child

  • Women who experience a miscarriage

  • Surrogate or commissioning mothers


  • Entitlement: Every woman who meets the eligibility criteria has the right to receive maternity benefit.

  • Financial Compensation: Maternity benefit involves financial compensation paid to the pregnant woman by her employer or a relevant government authority. The compensation is aimed at replacing a portion of the woman’s regular income during her absence from work due to maternity leave.

  • Rate of Payment: The rate of payment is usually based on the woman’s average daily wage. This wage is calculated based on the woman’s earnings for the days she worked over a specified period before her maternity leave. The benefit amount is often a percentage of this average daily wage.

  • Legal Protection: The right to payment in maternity benefits is often protected by labour laws or other legal frameworks. Employers are obligated to adhere to these laws and provide the entitled benefits to eligible women.


Here are some answers to the most asked frequent questions related to maternity leave policy in India.


Is maternity leave a paid leave in India?

Yes, the employer is obliged to offer a paid leave when an employee takes a maternity leave subject to eligibility.

How many months is maternity leave in India?

For first and second-time mothers, the Indian Maternity Benefit Act 1961 states that she can take 6 months, or 26 weeks, off. With every subsequent child, the mother can avail 3 months, or 12 weeks, off for her maternity leave, which is a paid leave wherein her employer needs to pay her in full.

Will I get a salary during maternity leave?

Yes, according to the Indian Maternity Benefit Act 1961, you are entitled to your full salary for the duration of your maternity leave. Your employer cannot hire, nor discriminate against you solely because you are pregnant or have delivered a child.

When does maternity leave start?

Women employees who wish to use their maternity leave in India can do so if they have worked at their company for at least 80 days in the 12 months before their delivery or adoption date. Although there is no set date when an employee can take her maternity leave, she can take 26 weeks off for her first 2 children, and 12 weeks off for subsequent children. She must avail her maternity leave within 6 months of her delivery date.

Are employees eligible for employee benefits during maternity leave?

In addition to the Maternity Leave and Benefits listed in this article, women employees in India can also receive standard employee benefits when they are off, on their maternity leave. She can avail applicable company benefits to employees including medical insurance, housing allowance, and other perks and allowances.

Who pays for maternity leave?

Maternity leave in India is paid by employers to their expectant or newly-delivered women employees. The employer needs to pay the female employee her full salary during the entire time she is on maternity leave. In addition, the employee can provide further maternity benefits or leave days according to her employment contract or applicable laws.

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