The Hon’ble High Court of Himachal Pradesh in its judgement passed on 15.07.2020 held that benefits of maternity leave along with its consequential benefits were also applicable to contractual employees.
The said judgement was passed in response to a writ petition filed by one Dr. Mandeep Kaur, a Medical Officer appointed on contractual basis at the ECHS Clinic, Shimla. The Petitioner claimed for maternity leave w.e.f 11.02.2018 along with all its consequential benefits, including continuity of her service.
The Respondent on the other hand denied granting the Petitioner any such leave, submitting that the Petitioner was a contractual employee and hence was not entitled to any maternity leave benefits as per the employment contract signed between her and the Respondent.
Referring to Section 2 of the Maternity Benefit Act 1961, Justice Sureshwar Thakur stated that the said clinic indeed fell within the ambit of the Act. Further, he referred to the Apex Court judgement in the matter of Municipal Corporation of Delhi Vs Female Workers and Ors., wherein it was held that women employees engaged on daily wages or casual basis were entitled to receive all maternity leave benefits.
The Hon’ble High Court also referred to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution thereby holding that stripping off a woman employee from her maternity leave benefits including leave without pay, equalled to exploitation of the woman, thereby amounting to the infringement of the said Article. Additionally, it would not only result in taking a toll on the woman carrying the child in her womb, but would also impact the child’s health.
Stating the aforesaid reasons, the Hon’ble High Court allowed the present writ petition thereby holding that the Petitioner was entitled to 26 weeks, of, maternity leave of which eight weeks, shall precede, the date of the apposite expected delivery. The Respondent was directed to abide by Section 5 of the Maternity Benefit Act 1961 while granting the Petitioner the said leave.