TOPIC B Maternity Leave Law In India

09/01/2011 22:22

 Maternity Leave Law In India

Pregnancy is a special moment for all mothers-to-be. And this is one time when she needs to take best care of herself so that she can give birth to a healthy and robust baby. Most importantly, all this needs to be done under the supervision of a medical expert. It is normally advised that the mothers-to-be stay at home during this entire duration in order to take premium care of them. Yet, many professional women and employees choose to work throughout the first half.


Now for this there is something called the Maternity Leave Law in India that all working mothers-to-be should be aware of. The correct name by which this law is referred is the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961. It was passed by the Central Government in 1961 and pertains to the whole of India. In other words, the Maternity Benefit Act 1961 is applicable to every institution under the government, be it industrial, commercial or agricultural. It is important for all women to know about it because it provides for certain benefits to her during her pregnancy.


The maternity leave right in India stipulates that a woman cannot be dismissed from her job just because she is expecting. Also this policy provides that all working mothers-to-be are entitled to a maternity leave period of 12 weeks from her office. While the first six weeks of maternity leave is to be taken before delivery, the remaining six weeks of leave will be granted immediately after the child is born. A woman can also ask for light work before she goes off on leave.


Moreover, the maternity leave right in India specifies that the employer cannot deduct her salary under such circumstances. At the same time, the maternity benefits permitted under the Maternity Benefit Act 1961 can only be withdrawn if the employee joins some other organization during this time. Generally a lot of women do not stop working soon after coming to know of their pregnancy. Maternity leave law in India is really helpful to those women who cannot risk leaving their jobs in order to support their family

Very recently, a modification was suggested in the Maternity Benefits Act of 1961. According to this new proposal, the maternity leave will be extended from the present three months to six months. This decision is sure to evoke a mixed reaction from the public. Some women may welcome it and some may feel it will hamper their professional career. This suggestion was given in lieu of the fact that a baby needs to be nursed by the mother for a minimum of six months. Now, one has to wait and watch whether women will take it acceptingly or will it face opposition from corporate world.


What is abortion?

Abortion means the annihilation of pregnancy by any technique either spontaneous or induced before the mother’s foetus is adequately developed to survive autonomously. As a rule, the foetus should be less than 20 weeks old from the time of pregnancy for abortion to take place.


Induced and Spontaneous Abortions

The spontaneous abortion of the foetus is medically called a miscarriage, which can take place due to a variety of reasons such hyper-tension, accident, trauma and so on and often lie beyond the prevention powers of human beings. Whereas, induced abortion is intentional termination of pregnancy. Out of approximately 35 million induced abortions that take place each year around the globe, more than half of them are illegal and executed by unqualified, untrained people and that too under highly unhygienic setting.


The Indian Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act

In order to prevent the misuse of induced abortions, most countries in the world have created strict abortion laws and so has India. As per India’s abortion laws only qualified doctors, under stipulated conditions, can execute an act of abortion on a woman in a clinic or a hospital that has been approved of doing so. The Indian abortion laws fall under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, which was enacted by the Indian Parliament in the year 1971. The MTP Act, however, came into effect from 01 April, 1972 and was once amended in 1975.



Grounds for Abortion as per the Indian MTP Act

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act of India clearly mentions the conditions under which only a pregnancy can be ended or the foetus aborted, the persons who are qualified to conduct the abortion and the place of implementation. The grounds, thus, for conducting an abortion as interpreted from the Indian MTP Act are:


1. A pregnancy may be terminated by a registered medical  practitioner,- 

(a) where the length of the pregnancy does not exceed twelve weeks if such medical practitioner is Of opinion, formed in good faith, that,-

(i) the continuance of the pregnancy would involve a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or of grave injury to her physical or mental health ; or

(ii) there is a substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from such physical or mental  abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped

However, when the pregnancy exceeds 12 weeks but is below 20 weeks, the consultation of two registered medical practitioners is required.

2. A pregnancy occurring as a result of rape

3. Failure of contraceptive device used by a couple. 


Consent of the following kinds is required before a legal abortion by an approved practitioner can be conducted on a pregnant female: 

  • If married--- her own written consent. Husband’s consent not needed.
  • If unmarried and above 18years ---her own written consent.
  • If below 18 years ---written consent of her guardian.
  • If mentally unstable --- written consent of her guardian. 

Physicians approved for conducting MTP are:

  • A qualified registered medical practitioner who has helped in 25 MTPs.
  • A house surgeon who has undergone six months post in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
  • A person who has a diploma /degree in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
  • Three years of practice in Obstetrics and Gynecology for those doctors registered before the 1971 MTP Act was passed.
  • A year of practice in Obstetrics and Gynecology for the doctors registered on or after the date of commencement of the Act.


Legal Abortion Procedures In India

Abortion signifies the termination of pregnancythrough any method either spontaneous or induced before the mother’s foetus is satisfactorily developed to live autonomously. As per abortion laws in India, the foetus should be less than 20 weeks old from the time of pregnancy for abortion to take place. Depending upon how old is the foetus, one can choose among the following legal abortion procedures practiced in India.


In case of the first trimester (initial 12 weeks) abortion, one can opt for the surgical methods like:


(i)                 Cervical dilatation ensued by uterus evacuation though curettage / suction evacuation / vacuum aspiration / dilatation and evacuation

(ii)               Menstrual aspiration (MR)


Medical Methods of Abortion in the first trimester

The medical procedure of abortion includes the use of Prostaglandin groups of drugs. These can be given to the patient via different routes like the mouth, by injection intramuscularly/ intravenously or vaginally. While conducting an abortion at this stage, these drugs can be used by themselves or in amalgamation with other drugs. In case of first trimester abortions the preference, however, is given to the surgical method of dilatation and curettage because the drugs are quite expensive and also not easily available.


Second Trimester Abortion

The second semester abortion is meant to be conducted on a pregnant lady wanting to undergo an abortion between 13 – 20 weeks. Counseling is normally given to the patient by the attending Obstetrician at this stage for the following reasons: 

·       To alleviate the anxiety of the lady who has to undergo an abortion.

·       To inform about the abortion procedure, safety, risks etc.

·       To examine for guilt or any psychiatric problem.

·       To help the patient understand and deal with her feelings.

·       To help her avoid any unplanned pregnancy later on.

Medical process of abortion during the second trimester can be carried out using drugs like:  

·       Ethacridine lactate.

·       prostaglandin

 Whereas, the surgical procedures for conducting abortion during the second semester are:

·       Aspirotomy

·       Hysterotomy

·       Hysterectomy

 Note: Please consult a qualified doctor for advice regarding abortion and do not try any of these methods yourself at home.


Types Of Contraceptive Methods


Let the arrival of a new family member – ‘your newborn’ – be a moment filled with love and happiness. Not one that’s abrupt and muddled in worry just because you now will have to feed an extra mouth at a time when you are somehow managing to foot the surmounting monthly expenditure bills. The solution, thus, lies in adhering to a proper family planning programme for preventing an unwanted pregnancy, in which use of contraceptive plays a very crucial role.


Since there are so many various types of contraceptive options available, which one you will choose should be decided solely by you and your partner. You may have to try several different things before you hit on the one you like most. However, it’s always advisable that you consult a doctor before you begin to use a particular type of contraceptive. It should, however, be remembered that no contraceptive offers a 100 per cent guarantee against pregnancy.


Information about Contraceptive Methods


Contraceptive Pills

The pills are the most popular type of contraceptive method adhered to by women. It’s quite safe. But in rare cases, the contraceptive pill is found to have chronic fallouts. This is why it’s advised to consult the doctor and get a small check-up done before taking contraceptive pills. A check up will ensure that you do not have any risk factors i.e. you are not susceptible to heart attacks. You get a pack containing 21 pills. You take one each day for three weeks, at the end of which you ‘break’ for a week. During the break, you’ll have your period.


Male Condom

These are sheathes that confine the sperms when a man climaxes. Using condoms significantly lessens the chance of an unwanted pregnancy. It also provides some amount of defense against sexually-transmitted infections like HIV. Normally, you will find two types of condoms in the market – for males and females. Maximum condoms are made of thin latex. But a polyurethane type is also available, which can be used by those people who are allergic to latex.


Contraceptive Injection

Contraceptive injections contain hormones and a used by a decent number of women around the world as a contraceptive method. When injected in a muscle (normally buttock), the drug prevents the lady from gettingpregnant. But the effect of this injection lasts for only a certain span of time, after which one is required to take another jab. However, the good thing about it is that a person does not have to worry on an every day basis about use of contraceptive.


Contraceptive Implants

Getting a contraceptive implanted under the skin of the arm does seem to be an attractive option for quite a few women. From there, the embedded contraceptive releases a gradual stream of a female-type hormone into the bloodstream. The hormone traverses down to the ovaries and keeps them from discharging eggs. It also brings about certain insignificant anti-conception alteration in the womb lining and in the cervix. This way, the woman does not get pregnant or you can say that the chances of pregnancy are considerably reduced.


Cap or Diaphragm

The diaphragms or cap is another type of contraceptive method people adhere to for avoiding unwanted / untimely pregnancy. The diaphragms or cap are ‘domes,’ made out of fine, soft rubber. They act as an exceptional physical ‘barrier’ to the sperms. You may, however, have to use a spermicide along with the cap or diaphragms. There are two crucial types of contraceptive caps - the diaphragm and the cervical cap.


Female Contraceptives



Contraception is a term that most of us have heard, but have shied away from knowing much about. In today’s world of swelling population and widespread AIDS problem, we need to rely on the contraception methods to stay on the safer side. Today, a female need not rely on her male partner for using contraception methods. There are a large number of female contraceptive options available in the market, which will not only help her in avoiding unwanted pregnancy, but also protect her from sexually transmitteddiseases (STDs). However, a female should consult a gynecologist and keep the wishes of her partner in mind, before deciding on thecontraceptives to be used.


IUD (Intra-uterine device)

Intra-uterine device is a device containing barium sulphate and sometimes copper, and is placed inside the womb of a female. The device releases hormones within the uterus, which either prevent fertilization of the egg or change the uterus lining in such a way that the egg in unable to implant. IUD can remain effective from 5 to 10 years. There are also IUDs that remain effective for one year only. This contraception method is cost effective as well as reliable. However, the problem is that it might cause bleeding or pelvic infection in a female as well as increase the chance of contracting STDs.


Contraceptive Pill

One of the most popular contraceptive options available in the market these days comprises of the oral contraceptive pill. The pill contains a combination of two synthetic hormones, oestrogen and progesterone. These hormones not only prevent ovaries from releasing eggs, but also thicken the cervical mucus to block sperm and even alter the endometrial lining to prevent implantation. The pill helps in contraception, is recommended for PMS patients, makes menses regular and even reduces the risk of pelvic disease. The disadvantages comprise of nausea and weight again. Women, who have blood clots, suffer from cardiac problems, blood pressure or liver tumors, should not use it.



Spermicides are chemical formations used for killing the sperms that have entered a woman's body. They are available in the form of creams, foams, gels or suppositories (that can be inserted inside the vagina). They basically comprise of Nonoxynol- 9 or Octoxynol. Spermicides are very easy to use and are said to provide protection against STDs also. However, one cannot completely rely on them and they are usually used along with other contraception methods, like condoms. Another problem is that some people are allergic to spermicides and the formation last for a little while only - usually an hour.



Diaphragm is a latex disc inserted inside a woman's body, to cover the cervix. The main use of the disc is to prevent sperms from entering the uterus. It is also filled with spermicide, so that if by any chance the sperm enters the uterus, it is rendered inactive. On an average, the diaphragm has been found to be effective 85% of the time. Other benefits are - it protects a female against pelvic inflammatory disease and STDs and even lowers the risk of cervical cancer. The problem is that the insertion is a bit difficult and may lead to urinary tract infections.


One of the recent methods of contraception available in the market comprises of the female condom. It is basically a thin sheath or pouch worn by a woman inside the vagina, during sex. The condom not only helps a female in avoiding unwanted pregnancy, but also provides her a protection against sexually transmitted diseases. The protection is made of polyurethane and nitrile and has very less chances of leading to an allergic reaction. They can be used with oil-based as well as water-based lubricants. However, the failure rate is higher in the cases of the condoms, as compared to the pill.








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