Government Of India Introduces Maternity Benefit For Women In The Unorganised Sector Bill, 2023

Posted On - 16 March, 2024 • By - King Stubb & Kasiva

The Maternity Benefit for Women in the Unorganized Sector Bill, 2023 (Bill No. LXIV of 2023)has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha on February 2nd, 2024. The Billseeks to provide state-sponsored maternity benefits to women working in the unorganized sector by establishing a National Maternity Welfare Board, Maternity Benefit fund, etc., and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto. It shall come into force on the appointed dates as notified by the Central Government. Some key features include:

  1. Prohibition of employment during maternity: The Bill mandates that no woman can be engaged in any workplace during the six weeks following delivery, miscarriage, or medical termination of pregnancy. Additionally, pregnant women cannot be required to perform arduous work that may jeopardize their health or pregnancy.
  2. Right to payment of maternity benefit: The legislation ensures that every registered woman in the unorganized sector is entitled to maternity benefits from the appropriate Government. These benefits will be calculated based on the woman’s average daily wage, with a minimum requirement of thirty work days in the twelve months preceding the expected delivery date.
  3. Notice of claim for maternity benefit: Women are empowered to give written notice at designated facilities, such as hospitals or Anganwadi Centres, to claim maternity benefits. This notice shall include details of their absence from work and the period they intend to claim benefits.
  4. Payment of maternity benefit in case of death: In the unfortunate event of a woman’s death before receiving maternity benefits, the appropriate Government will ensure that the benefits are paid to her nominee or the caregiver of her child.
  5. Crèche facility: The Bill mandates that every woman in the unorganized sector has the right to access common crèche facilities provided by the appropriate Government and municipality in the vicinity of her workplace.
  6. Dismissal for absence during pregnancy: Employers are prohibited from dismissing or discharging women due to their absence during pregnancy. This provision safeguards women’s employment rights during maternity leave.
  7. Registration for maternity benefits: Women must register for availing benefits under the said Act. Upon registration, they will receive a unique Maternity Benefit Card, facilitating the process of accessing benefits.
  8. National Maternity Benefit Welfare Board: The establishment of a National Maternity Benefit Welfare Board is proposed to manage the Maternity Benefit Fund and oversee the effective implementation of the Act. This Board will play a crucial role in collecting and disbursing contributions and ensuring compliance with the Act’s provisions.
  9. Helpline, facilitation center, and awareness measures: To support women in accessing benefits, the Bill mandates the establishment of toll-free helplines, facilitation centres, and awareness campaigns to disseminate information and assist with registration.
  10. Maternity Benefit Fund: A dedicated Fund will be set up for implementing the provisions of the Act.