- If a woman is employed on contract basis, is she entitled to maternity leave?
- If there is absence of contractual obligation, can it devoid maternity benefits to a woman?
- If the terms of the agreement employing a woman is silent on such benefits, will she be entitled to maternity benefits?
You will find the answers by way of reference to 2 judgments placed by Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque viz.
(1) Mini vs. Life Insurance Corporation of India and
(2) Rakhi P.V. and Others vs. State of Kerala & Another3 (“Rakhi’s Case“)
wherein it was held that a woman cannot be compelled to choose between motherhood and employment
The decision by the Court – Maternity Leave
The Court was of the view that maternity benefits are not merely a statutory benefit or a benefit flowing out of an agreement. This form of benefit is attached to the dignity of a woman.
The Court further negated the contention of the Respondents which stated that since the Petitioner is a contractual employee, the Petitioner could claim a maximum of fifteen days of casual leave during the tenure of one year and abstention from duty on account of medical conditions of maternity.
The Court stressed Rakhi’s Case, wherein it was held that women employees working on a contractual basis cannot be denied maternity leave. The court stated that” In Rakhi’s case (supra) it was held that a woman employee cannot be denied maternity benefits merely because her status is a contractual employee.
Therefore, the University is bound to grant such benefits notwithstanding anything contained in the agreement of contract.”
In light of the above-stated observations, the Court allowed the Petitioner’s plea and directed the Respondent to pay the maternity benefits due to the Petitioner.
Kerala Services Rules – (Maternity Leave) – The Maternity Benefit Act,1961
Petitioner was initially appointed on a contract basis for a period of one year. The period of the contract was extended twice and the petitioner was continuing in service. Petitioner was granted maternity leave for 135 days and was advised to resume duties on the expiry of the leave period. Petitioner has contended that as per provisions of Kerala Services Rules and Maternity Benefits Act, every women employee is entitled to leave of 180 days.
The Court examined the issue of whether the petitioner was entitled to leave as prayed for.
The Court held that the petitioner is admittedly working on a contract basis under State Funded Projects, is entitled to only 90 days of maternity leave, cannot be countenanced, since it would amount to discrimination amongst women employees, only for the reason that they are engaged on projects on contractual capacity. The petitioner will also be entitled to maternity leave as is due to women employees under Service Rules applicable to State and (Central Government Servants/Women employees under Maternity Benefits Act 1961. The Court while disposing of cases of Mini v. LIC of India, (1) KLT 5301, laid down law in favor of women employees working on a contract basis. Respondents were directed to grant 26 weeks of maternity leave to petitioners. Impugned order set aside.
Writ Petition disposed of.
H.C. Ker. 2018, Rakhi P.V. & Ors. V. State of Kerala.