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Maternity benefits cannot be denied to contractual employees: Delhi HC

Maternity benefits cannot be denied to contractual employees: Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court emphasised the importance of maternity rights, stating that no woman employee can be denied this right because of the nature of her job.

A female attendant working on a temporary basis at a Delhi University hostel was involved in the case. Her contract was extended for six months, from July 2 to December 31, 2022, according to her petition. During this time, she requested maternity leave, which was granted and was scheduled from May 5 to November 4.

Despite this, the woman did not receive her salary during her maternity leave. She was later informed that her employment had been terminated and that she had been permanently replaced.

She also stated that she approached the appropriate authorities several times but received no response.

After reviewing the petition, the court determined that the institution in question had terminated the petitioner without cause. Furthermore, the bench stated that depriving people of these benefits is inhumane and violates their fundamental rights.

In a single-judge bench, Justice Chandra Dhari Singh claimed that the petitioner was only informed of the abrupt termination of her employment when she returned to the respondent institution following her maternity leave. As a result, the High Court directed the authorities to re-employ the woman in her previous position or any other role she qualifies for, and to disburse maternity benefits in accordance with the 1961 Act within four weeks. The court also awarded the petitioner Rs 50,000 in compensation.

This is not the first time the Delhi High Court has ruled in favour of women seeking maternity leave. The previous case involved a petitioner who worked as an empaneled advocate for the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) on a contractual basis. Her employer had refused her maternity leave. Following the organization’s rejection of her request, she took her case to the Delhi High Court, where she filed a petition requesting that maternity benefits be extended to contractual employees.

Following the court hearing, Justice Chandra Dhari Singh issued a decree emphasizing the importance of creating a supportive work environment in which women can make choices without jeopardizing their career or motherhood goals. Furthermore, the court ruled that maternity benefits are more than just a statutory right or a contractual obligation between an employer and an employee. Instead, when a woman decides to start a family and become a mother, they become an intrinsic and fundamental part of her identity and dignity.

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