Kerala High Court: The Bench of A. Muhamed Mustaque, J. disposed of a petition by stating that maternity benefits cannot be denied to a woman employed on contractual basis.

Petitioner was working as an assistant professor in Medical Microbiology on a contract basis. It has been stated that, on expiry of the last contract of the petitioner she was re-engaged for a period of one year and the timeline of her employment shows that she had been engaged from time to time on contract basis for past one decade.

The crux of the issue in the present case is that, on claiming maternity benefits from the University, the petitioner was denied for the same. University submitted that in terms of agreement petitioner was not entitled to such benefits.

“Maternity benefit is not merely a statutory benefit or a benefit flowing out of an agreement.”

Reliance was placed on Rakhi P.V. v. State of Kerala, 2018 SCC OnLine Ker 864, in which it was held that a woman cannot be compelled to choose between motherhood and employment. Further, the Court stated that women employees who are working under contract cannot be denied the maternity benefits.

Therefore, in the present case, the bench held that University is bound to grant such benefits notwithstanding anything contained in the agreement of contract. University was further directed to pay maternity benefits due to the petitioner within a period of 2 months. [Rasitha C.H. v. State of Kerala, 2018 SCC OnLine Ker 7404, decided on 11-12-2018]

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