Jhar HC | “A woman employee cannot be discriminated on the basis of mode of appointment”; HC holds a contractual employee is equally entitled to maternity benefits

Jharkhand High Court: S. N. Pathak, J., directed the State of Jharkhand to provide maternity benefits to a contractual employee whose demand for honorarium for the duration of maternity leave was not addressed by the authorities concerned. The Bench stated,

“A woman employee cannot be discriminated on the basis of mode of appointment and each and every woman, who is an employee of any establishment, is entitled to get the maternity benefit, whatever be the mode of her appointment…”

The petitioner was appointed on a contractual basis to the post of Protection Officer Institutional Care (POIC), Bokaro and till date she was working. The petitioner contended that she had applied for maternity leave before the District Social Welfare Officer from 03-10-2019 to 30-03-2020 and the same was duly received in the office of the Deputy Commissioner, as well as District Social Welfare Officer.

The grievance of the petitioner was that she was continuously working and getting honorarium for the current month, but she had not been paid the honorarium for the period of her maternity leave, though, she had made representation before the respondents, but no heed was paid. The petitioner submitted that there could not be any distinction between a regular employee, contractual employee and casual employee so far as grant of maternity benefit is concerned as the maternity leave was duly sanctioned to the petitioner and prior information was given to the authorities before leaving the station.

Section 2 of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 deals with the applicability of such case(s) and it applies to all establishments belonging to the Government and to every establishment wherein person(s) are employed. Further, Section 3(O) of the Act defines a “woman”; which means a woman employed whether directly or through any agency, for wages in any establishment. Section 5 of the Act provides for right to payment of maternity benefits, which includes any women.

Thus, the Bench opined that a woman employee cannot be discriminated on the basis of mode of appointment and each and every woman, who is an employee of any establishment, is entitled to get the maternity benefit, whatever be the mode of her appointment, subject to the condition that the contract of employment should subsist.

Accordingly, the petitioner was directed to file a fresh representation before the respondents, claiming maternity leave benefit for the period in question, and the respondent authorities were directed to take an appropriate decision and issue orders for payment of the arrears of honorarium. [Sarita Kumari v. State of Jharkhand, 2021 SCC OnLine Jhar 706, decided on 21-09-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


Appearance by:

For the Petitioner: Mr Shadab Bin Haque, Advocate

For the Respondents: Mr Achyut Keshav, GP-I

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