Leave Entitlements Of Women Employees

By Divya Jyoti Jaipuriar, Adv.

Women employee in any establishment- private or government- has to play dual role. In the office, she has to function as an employee and compete with her male counterpart and at home, she has to look after her family and also to take care of her children. In these two roles, the life of a woman employee becomes very difficult. Keeping in view of the dual role of women employee, the Sixth Pay Commission decided to recommend, inter alia, flexible office timing for women employee, introduction of 730 days of child care leave in her entire service period, extension of maternity leave from 135 days to 180 days, extension of period of leave which can be availed of in continuation of maternity leave from existing one year to two years etc.

While accepting the recommendations of Sixth Pay Commission, Government of India, with effect from 1st September 2008, extended the maternity leave to 180 days and also permitted to avail two years of leave of any other kind in continuation with maternity leave. Government also accepted the recommendation of introduction of Child Care Leave for a period of 730 days in the entire service period for women employees for upto two minor children.

In addition to these leaves available to the women employees, the male employees are also entitled for 15 days paternity leave in case of his wife is pregnant. It is also important to understand that the leave available to the employees of government may not be sought as a matter of right and in cases of public exigencies, the leave may be denied or curtailed. However in cases of Child Care Leave or Maternity Leave, adequate care and requirement of the woman employee at her home front is also required to be taken care of. As a matter of fact, it is also provided in the Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules that efforts should be made to encourage the employees to take leave on annual basis. It is also warranted from the leave sanctioning authority to draw up phased programme for the grant of leave to the applicants by turn. In a recent Supreme Court Judgment in Kakali Ghosh versus Union of India, Supreme Court also held that a woman employee is entitled for uninterrupted 730 days of Child Care Leave. Supreme Court also held that CCL even beyond 730 days can be granted by combining other leave if due.

For a woman employee in private sector, similar facilities are available under Maternity Benefits Act, 1961. Under this legislation, every woman employed either directly or through an agency, is entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave- 6 weeks prior to her delivery and 6 weeks after delivery. She is also entitled for 6 weeks of leave in case of miscarriage. For illness arising out of pregnancy, delivery, premature birth or miscarriage, a woman employee can take extra leave up to a maximum period of one month. It is also provided that the employer is required to pay a medical bonus of at least Rs. 1,000/- extending to Rs. 20,000/- if the employer is unable to provide free medical care to the women employee. In addition, during the maternity leave, the woman employee is entitled to get average pay.

The Maternity Benefit Act also provides that a pregnant women is entitled for rest during her working hours. The employer is required to give light work for 10 weeks before the date of expected delivery if pregnant woman asks for it. After the delivery, the woman employee is also entitled for two nursing breaks in the course of her daily work until the child attains age of 15 months. In case of tubectomy, operation leave with wages for 2 weeks is also granted to the employee. It is also provided that during the period of maternity leave, there should not be any discharge or dismissal of the woman employee. There should also not be any change to her disadvantage in any of the conditions of her employment while on maternity leave. Pregnant woman discharged or dismissed may still claim maternity benefit from the employer under the Maternity Benefits Act, 1861.

The author is an Advocate practising in Supreme Court of India. He also represented Kakali Ghosh in the aforementioned judgment. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..