In the Employees’ Provident Funds Scheme, 1952 (hereinafter referred to as the said Scheme), in paragraph 68J,-
ESI HAS ALREADY EXTENDED REVISED MATERNITY BENEFIT
An establishment covered under ESI will not be liable to pay Maternity Benefit Act since the Ministry of Labour and Employment has by a notification dated 20.1.2017 has already implemented the amended provisions of the Act. However, the benefit of ESI will be available to those insured employees drawing upto Rs.21,000 pm and the qualifying period for claiming benefit will be not less than 70 days in the immediately preceding two consecutive periods. Thus the employers will be liable to extend Maternity Benefit Act upon the employees other than insured employees under ESI Act.
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As per the information provided by the office of Labour Commissioner, Punjab, Chandigarh, vide Circular No.7179 dated 5th April, 2017, there is an increase of Rs.109.96 in the minimum rates of wages of each category (Unskilled, Semi-Skilled, Skilled and Highly Skilled) of employees working in scheduled employments in the State of Punjab with effect from 1stMarch 2017. For Daily Wage employees the increase is of Rs.4.24 and for hourly wages the increase is of Rs.0.53 paisa only. Accordingly, the monthly minimum rates of wages for unskilled category of employee is now Rs.7,568.52, daily wages shall be Rs.291.51 and hourly wage will be Rs.36.43. A comparative table of rates of wages as on 1.3.2016, 1.9.2016 and 1.3.2017 for all categories of employees is given below:
|Sr.No.||Category||Type of wages||1.3.2016 (Rs.)||1.9.2016 (Rs.)||1.3.2017 (Rs.)|
Official Notification dated 1.3.2017 is attached below:
The Employee’s Compensation Act has been amended as per the following notification:
By a notification dated 31st March, 2017 the amendment to Maternity Benefit Act has been implemented w.e.f. 1st April, 2017. However, where nature of work assigned to a woman could be carried her own home the employer be allowed her to do so after availing the maternity benefit will be effective w.e.f. 1.7.2017.
SALIENT FEATURES OF THE AMENDMENT
Duration of benefit
The maximum period for which any woman shall be entitled to maternity benefit shall now be 26 weeks of which not more than 8 weeks shall precede the date of her expected delivery. However, a woman employee having two or more surviving children shall have the benefit of 12 weeks of which not more than 6 weeks shall precede with the date of expected delivery.
Every establishment having 50 or more employees shall have the facilities of creche within such distance as may be prescribed, either separately or alongwith common facilities. It is provided that the employer shall allow four visits a day to the creche by the woman which shall also include the interval for rest allowed to her.
Note : The word ‘employee’ though not defined under section 3 of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 or even in the amended Act, but it would be construed as ‘woman employee’. In this context it is pertinent to refer to section 48 of the Factories Act, 1948 inter alia providing as under :
48. Creches.- (1) In every factory wherein more than thirty women workers are ordinarily employed there shall be provided and maintained a suitable room or rooms for the use of children……
Obligation of employer
The amended Act provides that every establishment shall intimate in writing and electronically to every woman at the time of her initial appointment regarding every benefit available under the Act.