Kerala High Court: Addressing a matter wherein maternity benefits were not being allowed to female officers, Raja Vijayaraghavan V, JJ., expressed that the employer is to take all steps possible to ensure that they are sympathetic to the cause of the female officer so that she can achieve her potential in the workplace and the time spent by her to deliver and raise her child shall not be detrimental to her career or her prospects.
The petitioners who were working as Programmer (IT) were denied the Maternity Benefits, hence they approached this Court.
Analysis, Law and Decision
The Supreme Court decision in Municipal Corpn. of Delhi v. Female Workers, AIR 2000 SC 1274 was cited wherein the female workers (Muster roll) engaged by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi raised a demand for grant of maternity leave which was made available only to regular female workers but was denied to them on the ground that their services have not been regularized.
In the present matter, earlier the maternity benefit was rejected on the ground that female officers appointed on contract for a period of one year or less were not eligible for maternity leave.
It was noted by the Court that, benefit of maternity leave on full pay as per Rule 100, Part I KSR has been granted up to a period of 180 days or till the expiry of the existing contract, irrespective of its tenure.
The Government inserted a caveat that no officer shall be entitled to the above benefits unless she has “actually” worked under the employer for a period of not less than 80 days immediately preceding her expected date of delivery or date of miscarriage.
As held by the Supreme Court, women who constitute almost half of the segment of our society have to be honoured and treated with dignity at places where they work to earn their livelihood. Whatever be the nature of their duties, their avocation and the place where they work, they must be provided with all the facilities to which they are entitled.
Bench expressed that becoming a mother is the most natural phenomenon in the life of a woman. The employer has to be considerate and sympathetic to the cause of the female officer and no action shall be taken to lower the dignity of the women employee in the workplace.
Hence, the impugned order insofar as it denied the maternity benefits will be quashed. [Naziya B. v. State of Kerala, 2022 SCC OnLine Ker 2343, decided on 10-5-2022]
Advocates before the Court:
For the Petitioners:
For the Respondents:
ADVOCATE GENERAL OFFICE KERALA
SHRI.P.SREEKUMAR, SC, KERALA UNIVERSITY OF HEALTH SCIENCES
SMT. ANIMA, GOVT.PLEADER.