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India: Government to Encourage the practice of Work from Home for Nursing Mothers

The Central Government of India issued an advisory on 1 June 2021 to all State Governments and Union Territories, to encourage the practice of work-from-home for nursing mothers (wherever the nature of work allows them to do so) for a period of at least 1 (one) year from the date of birth of the child, in accordance with section 5(5) of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (” MB Act”), to protect the mother and the child from getting infected with COVID-19, and thereby also encouraging female employees to remain in employment.

The MB Act regulates the employment of women in establishments for a certain period before and after childbirth and provides maternity benefits and other benefits to pregnant women and nursing mothers. Section 5(5) of the MB Act states that where the nature of work assigned to a woman is of such that she may be able to perform those job functions from home, the employer may allow the female employee to work from home after availing the maternity benefit for such period, and on such conditions, as the employer and the employee may mutually agree.

Under the MB Act, the respective State Governments have been designated as the ‘Appropriate Government’ for the implementation of the law. Therefore, the Central Government has requested that the State Governments create awareness about Section 5 (5) of the MB Act.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel 

Please note that the aforesaid press release is only an advisory and will be effective as and when implemented by respective State Governments and Union Territories.