To run a successful business, it is essential that your employees are satisfied and get the best, not just from their work life but also from their home life. In a previous post, we examined How to Institute a Fair Leave Policy for your employees, now we look at the criteria to determine maternity leave for expectant and new mothers who are employed within your organisation, and how to deal with the transition of their returning to work.
What does the Law say?
While there is no standard set number of days for maternity leave for working women, The Maternity Benefits Act 1961 that covers any establishment in India entitles your employees to six weeks of leave before their due date, and six weeks after the child’s birth. This statute is based on the expectant mother being your employee for at least 80 days in the 12 months preceding the pregnancy. To benefit from this leave, your employee must inform you in writing of their pregnancy. Businesses need to pay their female employees the average daily wages for this period of leave. The average daily wage refers to the average of wages during the three-month period immediately before the maternity leave starts.
Preceding and Following Maternity Leave
While 12 weeks is mandated by the government, you, as an employer, may choose to give your employees a longer stint of leave. Some organisations choose to allow female employees up to six months of paid maternity leave. While this might not be possible in your organisation, as a conscientious employer, you might want to make the decision of reducing your employees’ duties pre and post delivery. This should especially be a consideration if their role in your company involves physical labour. Also ensure that you have all the required documents for a smooth handover for whomever is taking up your pregnant employees duties during that time. New mothers may also need more flexible working hours when they return to work. It may be a good idea to institute a Working from Home Policy once maternity leave runs out. It is essential that you treat your pregnant and new mother employees with care and ensure their transition from work life to delivery and back is as smooth as possible.
Here are some of the ways to ensure this:
• Make sure there is an understanding and assigning of a special zone or space in your office where a new mother can breast feed her child
• Organise Child Care Facilities for your employees, in case a new mother needs to bring an unwell child to work
• Create a Family Friendly Environment
• Ensure Flexibility and a Work from Home policy is in place
• Create a Back to Work Plan where your returning employee feels part of the team
• Make sure to chat and conduct an informal review of the working situation every two weeks
• Have a Phased Return to work