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How can I avail maternity benefits?

Q: I am a 31 years old working mother with a 2.5 years old son and I am 7 months pregnant with my second child now. I wanted information about the maternity benefits that are applicable to expecting mothers. Some time back there was news of extending the maternity leave period from 3 months to 6 months across India. Please let me know if this has been implemented and also from what date. Moreover, is this law amendment restricted to some working sectors only or any sector like IT companies, MNCs, etc? Also, if it is not in our company policies yet, what proposal can we forward to have it included for our benefit?

A:To the best of my knowledge, the proposed bill has not yet been made into an Act. The maternity leave is applicable to all government servants and all beneficiaries of ESI scheme. The benefits are not meant for a particular sector alone. If your company does not have appropriate rules regarding maternity leave, you may consider the following actions: A. Request the company to have maternity benefits, including leave, at par with government rules [Maternity Benefit Act, 1961]. Both this Act and the ESI Act are available on internet as well as in hard copy from book shops. B. If the company refuses the request, a complaint can be made to women's commission or the human rights commission. A write can also be filed in the High Court. For all these 3, it would be better to engage the services of an advocate.

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