In a bid to resuscitate the emotional health of distraught women employees hit by cases of stillbirth or death of an infant within a few days of birth, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), a coordinating agency of the Central Government in personal matters, especially issues concerning staff welfare, granted a 60-day special maternity leave benefit.
This response came after the department received several queries seeking clarification on the grant of leave in case of the death of a child soon after birth.
“The matter has been considered in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Keeping in view the potential emotional trauma caused due to stillbirth or death of a child soon after birth, which has a far-reaching impact on the mother’s life, it has now been decided to grant a special maternity leave of 60 days to a female Central government servant,” the order stated.
The direction also highlighted that in case an employee has already availed maternity leave till the death of the child, it may be converted into any other kind of leave available in her leave account without insisting on a medical certificate and a special maternity leave of a 60-day may be granted.
“The condition for death of a child soon after birth may be defined as up to 28 days after birth. A baby born with no signs of life at or after 28 weeks of gestation may be defined as stillbirth,” according to the stated benefit.
This special maternity leave benefit shall be redeemed only by a woman Central government servant with less than two surviving children and for a child born only in an authorised hospital, which is defined as a government hospital or private hospital empanelled under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS).
Stating the requisite of the 60-day leave benefit, the order called for a mandatory certificate, “In case of emergency delivery in non-empanelled private hospitals, production of emergency certificate is mandatory.”
The civil services recipients are also applicable to avail the benefit in connection with the affairs of the Union of India.
Meanwhile, the government of India has already established “The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961” to regulate the employment of women in certain establishments for certain periods before and after childbirth and to provide for maternity benefits and certain other benefits.
Besides, the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017 which was passed by the Rajya Sabha in the year August 2016 and later approved by the Lok Sabha in 2017 stated a few vital changes- “The paid maternity leave in India was increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for working women. The law held benefits for only those who work in an organisation with a minimum of 10 employees. The pre-natal leave was also increased from 6 to 8 weeks.
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