Motherhood is a beautiful experience. And for working women it means lot of preparation and arrangements. Many big companies like hiring only unmarried women because they cannot afford to give leave and adjust the workload. However a woman is entitled in law also to get maternity leave. However, in the workforce the word pregnancy means that management will need to come up with a back up plan in order to keep business going as usual during your long leave.

The first most important thing is that you should inform your boss about the good news. Ideally, your employer should hear about your pregnancy directly from you. Inform your boss so that your absence can well be adjusted without any complications. Show them that your job means a lot to you. There are many decisions to make right now. One of them is to determine how who will complete your job duties while you are on leave. Your dedication to your employer will shine through if you take an active role in implementing a plan. One way could be by analyzing your job responsibilities and finding ways on how they could be divided among colleagues while you're away. This will not only help your employer in dealing with this situation with your active help and co-operation but it will also make you relax and feel that you have made your sincere contribution.

Get your info early
It is a good idea to make sure that you have answers to all of your queries as early as possible. You may end up on early bed rest or your baby may arrive early. Plan ahead. If you feel that you are not receiving sufficient information from your employer, ask your human resources department to administer all the information you will need to know about your upcoming maternity leave. Do not settle for incomplete or inconsistent information.

Show your concern
Assure your employer or colleagues who have taken on your job that you are always available at home if they are in difficulty. Be available to answer any questions that your colleagues may have about your job duties. Call your place of employment from home often to inquire if your telephone advice is needed. Check in with your boss to exhibit that you are still an active part of the team. Always be updated about office info, it will keep you informed and ready to resume your duties when you're back at work without any difficulty.

Legal aspect
Law has been enacted to help women get the different kinds of benefits from their employers during the leave period. Pregnancy is a precious time in a woman's life, and it is common for the overwhelming excitement to override all other priorities. And for that women neither have to resign from your job nor do you have to be without pay for taking leave. The law gives every right to a woman to go on maternity leave without getting her salary deducted.

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961

The Central Government passed the Maternity Benefit Act in 1961 which extends to the whole of India and applies to every establishment belonging to the government and to every establishment which may be industrial, commercial, agricultural or otherwise.

The Act prohibits the working of pregnant women for a specified period before and after delivery. It also provides for maternity leave and payment of certain monetary benefits for women workers during the period when they are out of employment on account of their pregnancy. The services of a woman employee cannot be terminated during the period except for gross misconduct.

The maximum period for which a woman can get maternity benefit is 12 weeks. Of this, 6 weeks must be taken prior to the date of delivery of the child and 6 weeks immediately following the date. To be entitled to maternity leave however, a woman must have actually worked for not less than 80 days in the 12 months immediately preceding the day of her expected delivery. Only working days are to be taken into account while calculating these 80 days. Weekly holidays and all leave-paid or unpaid be deemed as working days.

A notice must be given in writing stating the date of absence from work and also a certificate of pregnancy to avail of the facility of 6 weeks leave before the expected delivery. The employer has to pay the maternity benefit in advance for this period to the concerned employee or any person nominated for this purpose.

For the 6 weeks leave from the date of delivery, another notice must be sent together with a certificate of delivery after the child is born. The employer has to pay to the employee or her nominee maternity benefit within 48 hours of receiving this notice. The failure to give notice for the subsequent 6 weeks does not however disentitle a woman from the maternity benefit.

In case of miscarriage, a woman is entitled to 6 weeks leave with pay from the day of miscarriage. She is required to give notice together with a certificate 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. A medical certificate will have to be provided. With a view to encourage planned parenthood, the Act provides for 6 weeks leave with wages in case of medical termination of pregnancy, grant of leave with wages for a maximum period of 1 month in case of illnesses arising of MTP or tubectomy. 2 weeks leave with wages to women employees who undergo tubectomy. A woman employee can ask for light work for one month preceding the 6 weeks prior to her delivery or during these 6 weeks. An employer cannot reduce the salary on account of light work assigned to her or breaks taken to nurse her child. Further she cannot be discharged or dismissed on grounds of absence arising out of pregnancy or miscarriage, delivery or premature birth. Nor can her service conditions be altered to her disadvantage during this period.

An employer is prohibited from knowingly employing any woman in any establishment during the 6 weeks immediately following the day of her delivery or her miscarriage. Likewise, a woman is prohibited from working in any establishment during this period of 6 weeks.

However, a woman employee can be deprived of maternity benefit if after going for maternity leave, she works in another establishment during the period she's supposed to be on leave, or during the period for her pregnancy, she is dismissed for any prescribed gross misconduct.

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