Maternity Benefit Act, 1961

Many women in India are unaware of their rights under the Article 42 of the Indian Constitution and under the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961.

Recognizing the time required for breastfeeding, the Act provides for two nursing breaks for every nursing mother until her child is 15 months old.  This is in addition to the normal lunch break and other breaks that all workers get.  Every woman should defend her right to nursing breaks and see that employers follow the law protecting breastfeeding mothers and children.

A woman may use the nursing breaks to feed her baby or to express milk.  Mothers who need a nursing or pumping break after the 15 months would presumably fit it into the pre-existing breaks or take an unpaid break and make up the time accordingly.

Labour policies that recognize the role of breastfeeding represent an investment in the lifelong health of every individual.

Article 42 of the Constitution of India 1949

Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief the State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.

MATERNITY BENEFIT ACT, 1961
 
Breastfeeding ClipArt11. Nursing breaks
Every woman delivered of a child who returns to duty after such delivery shall, in addition to the interval for rest allowed to her, be allowed in the course of her daily work two breaks of the prescribed duration for nursing the child until the child attains the age of fifteen months.”

44 Comments

  1. Hi, my wife is a state govt employee& v r having a 6 month old baby, external food has been started just now n my child still not adjusted to that, from today she has to report to duty. Few of her friends hv told her that there is 2 hours permission wil b granted for feeding women, is it true, if it is true pls let me the notice or pls forward a copy of the notice r circular. Or any other option is there other than this…..

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    1. Dear Bhaskar, The Maternity Benefit Act is posted here on the Department of Labour site: http://pblabour.gov.in/pdf/acts_rules/maternity_benefit_act_1961.pdf
      See the provision for nursing breaks:
      11. Nursing breaks
      Every woman delivered of a child who returns to duty after such delivery shall, in addition to the interval for rest allowed to her, be allowed in the course of her daily work two breaks of the prescribed duration for nursing the child until the child attains the age of fifteen months.”
      Breastfeeding is the lifelong foundation for good health and also the best way to introduce food – the baby gets to taste everything the mother eats and the stomach gradually builds its capacity to digest it.

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    2. Madam am vijayalakshmi working as govt primary school teacher in karnataka state
      I have seven months baby.. Can I take two breaks to nurse my baby according to 1961act7?
      How can I get G o to get break? Please reply me

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  2. As a post graduate student of a private dental college in Bangalore, do I also get benefits from this act?my son is almost 4 months old and is totally dependant on me for food. But I’ve been pressured to return back and worried about my son’s health.he is aFter all a baby,and is allergic to formula. i have been told that I will have to repeat the whole year if I miss anymore working days. This just disappoints me so much . There are no provisions for pumping and nursing at my college.. how shall I defend my right to take care of my child and also complete my post graduation within the stipulated time course?

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    1. Very good question. Have you tried talking to anyone in the college office? You should make them understand that as a professional college that aims to prepare people for the workplace they should abide by the norms and ensure that their graduates enter the workforce knowing their rights and raising the standards wherever they go. In fact, modern workplaces provide on-site day care to allow mothers employed in those offices to check in and feed babies as needed with less interruptions overall then if they babies were elsewhere.

      If all this sounds like more than what your workplace would be able to consider, then they should at least follow the minimum of allowing for 2 nursing breaks as stipulated by the Maternity Benefit Act. Being in the health care field, they should be at the forefront of implementing these rights.

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  3. I’m nurse working in state government …I’m 7 months pregnant …and. we r working in three shift s…. Any provision to get a relaxation from night duty ..I’m facing lot of difficulty doing night shifts …our colleague s r forcing to do night duty …
    If any relaxation r govnt orders plz share

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  4. I am working on contract on DC Rates under the department of higher education,Govt. of Punjab. My baby is six months old.
    We are only 5 employees in our department. Does this Act apply on me?

    Is there any provision for Punjab Govt. Temporary employees ?

    Please please reply if anybody has any notification ragarding this.

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    1. Thanks for writing Anu. The BPNI bulletin says that the nursing breaks should be “for the prescribed duration.” I would imagine You should be able to work this out with the employer – if it takes longer than 20-30 minutes one could make up the additional time by staying later, for example. Some tasks can also be done while nursing – in that case the time is not completely lost.
      In any case if you want to see the letter of the law, here it is:
      Each of the two breaks mentioned in section 11 shall be of 15 minutes’ duration. An extra sufficient period, depending upon the distance to be covered, shall be allowed for the purpose of journey to and from the crèche or the place where the children are left by women while on duty, provided that such extra period shall not be of less than 5 minutes and more than 15 minutes’ duration. If any dispute arises regarding such extra period, the matter shall be referred to the Competent Authority for decision.

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  5. lam a kerala state govt employ.I have a baby of 1year. I have an official training for 15days outside kerala. can I get any relaxation from this.if yz please specify rules

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    1. My cousin had to travel for work while her baby was young, she got permission to take her child and an attender along with her. The attender looked after the baby during the workday, and my cousin could feed the baby at regular intervals. I think there was an ILO guideline that they followed to get this, I will try to find out what that was.

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  6. I m government teacher in jharkhand. I have just returned from maternity leave .. I want to know is nursing breaking allowed in our department in jharkhand?

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  7. Mam, i am govt. teacher serving in higher secondary school. My son is 7 month old, I am serving in far flung area and residing in rented house, school management asked me not to bring your child in school. There is no one to take care of him in the rented house. Which law is made for the people like me.

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  8. Hi.. am working in govt college.. prescribed duration means how many minutes can I take in 1 break.. can we merge 2 breaks in one time

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  9. There is any circular or guidelines for women’s employees those who are work in govt sector that they have to leave office or they should go office on some specific time for breast feeding to there new born baby in their working hours…..

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    1. She should be eligible for leave. Here is some information I found on a business consulting site called India Briefing: “Proof of any further complication related to pregnancy, delivery, premature birth, miscarriage or medical termination warrants an additional month of paid leave.” This would be in a addition to the 6 weeks before (expected) birth + 6 weeks after birth. https://www.india-briefing.com/news/expecting-india-employee-maternity-pay-leave-10294.html/

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  10. I am working in odisha govt. My baby is 15 months continue…. Till date my baby want breastfeeding… will i continue this child feeding rule for 18months, If yes than how, copy of this rule where I find… Pls tell me

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  11. I am an officer working in PSU bank and my kid is 8 months old . but my higher authority threatened me to show cause me and not allowed meto go home for Even half an hour for breast feeding of my kid says:

    I am working in a PSU bank as Manager and I joined my duty after completion of maternity leave.But my Higher Authority not allowed me to go home for half an hour also for breast feeding of my kid.they shouted and threatened to show caused me and sending explanation etc.as they donot know about the rule of nursing mother

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  12. Amma, could u tell me exact time provided fir a women in service of Rajasthan government under section 11 of the Maternity Benefit Act.

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