Maternity Leave and Other Benefits
What are the laws in Pakistan relating to maternity i.e. leave, treatment and other benefits?
Pakistan has four different laws relating that cover the issue of maternity and its related benefits. These laws are:
- The Mines Maternity Benefits Act, 1941
- The West Pakistan Maternity Benefit Ordinance, 1958
- The Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance, 1965
- The Civil Servants Act, 1973 (Revised Leave Rules, 1980)
However, apart from these laws, the Constitution, under its article 37, also requires the state to ensure the maternity benefits for women in employment.
What are the jurisdictions of these laws?
The Mines Maternity Benefits Act is applicable to all the mines where Mines Act 1923 is applied.
The West Pakistan Maternity Benefits Ordinance 1958 is applicable to all the organizations, establishments (whether industrial or commercial) and factories as defined under the Factories Act, 1934.
The Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance 1965 is applicable to all establishments and stipulates maternity benefits and medical care during pregnancy.
The Civil Servants Act 1973 and Revised Leave Rules 1980 govern the maternity leave provisions to the civil servants.
Can you please tell about the leave provisions under the above-mentioned laws?
Both under the Mines Maternity Benefits Act and Maternity Benefit Ordinance, every employed woman is entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks (around 3 months) of fully paid maternity leave. She can take this leave six weeks before the delivery and six weeks after the delivery. A woman on maternity leave will be paid at the rate equal to her last paid wages (i.e. if your weekly pay is PKR 2000, you will be paid by this rate and not on some reduced or higher rate).
The eligibility condition for the two laws differs: under the Mines Maternity Act, a woman must be employed in the mine for a period of not less than six months (at least six months) preceding the date of her delivery while the Maternity Benefits Ordinance requires that in order to claim the benefit, a woman must be employed for a period of not less than four months (at least four months) preceding the day she delivers a child.
Moreover, in accordance with the above two laws, no women can be employed (by the employer knowingly of her situation) during the six weeks following the delivery of her child.
You are also eligible for maternity benefit under the Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance if contributions were paid to the social security institution in your respect for at least six months in the preceding 12 months.
According to the Revised Leave Rules 1980, a female civil servant is eligible for 90 days leave (around 13 weeks) maternity leave on full wages.
An employer's liability, to pay maternity benefits, is not discharged even when an entitled woman worker dies on the day she is delivered of a child or during the period of pregnancy. The due amount has to be paid to her nominated persons or legal representatives.
|Law||Qualifying Condition||Leave Time/benefit||Pay rates during maternity leave|
|The Mines Maternity Benefits Act, 1941||Must have been working in the mine for at least 6 months||12 weeks (84 days)||Full Pay|
|The West Pakistan Maternity Benefit Ordinance, 1958||Must have been working in the organization for at least 4 months||12 weeks (84 days)||Full Pay|
|The Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance, 1965||Contribution paid in your respect for at least 90 days in preceding 6 months||Pre-natal confinement and post natal care|
|Revised Leave Rules, 1980||Permanent worker||13 weeks (90 days)||Full Pay|
How should I inform my employer about my expected delivery and after delivery?
A woman worker who is entitled to maternity benefit may give notice orally or in writing to the management that she expects to deliver a child within one and a half months and after receiving such notice, the management is supposed to provide you leave of absence from the following day. You can also have your 12-week leave started from just prior to the delivery of your child.
A woman who has delivered a child has to give notice of delivery to her organization within seven days of her delivery. You will also need to provide a proof of your delivery to the management within six months of delivery. This proof can either be a certified copy of birth register of a hospital, certificate issued by a medical practitioner or any proof acceptable to your employer.
Am I also eligible for medical care during my pregnancy?
According the Provincial Employees Social Security Ordinance, you are entitled to pre-natal confinement and postnatal medical care. However it requires that in the last six months, contributions were paid in your respect for at least 90 days.
At what time can I receive the maternity benefit payments?
In accordance with the Maternity Benefits Ordinance, you can receive your payments in the following three ways:
- You can receive the cash payment for the first six weeks before delivery (when you take leave) and the remaining amount for other six weeks has to be paid on production of proof of delivery and within forty-eight hours of its production
- After the delivery and proof production, you will receive the payment for the first six weeks within forty-eight hours and the remaining amount will be paid within six weeks
- After the production of proof that you have been delivered of a child, all your maternity benefits can be paid within forty-eight hours
Is there any limit on the number of times that I can take this maternity leave?
The laws governing the private sector i.e. Mines Maternity Benefits Act and Maternity Benefits Ordinance do not place any limits on the number of times you can avail the maternity leave.
However, in the public sector, a female servant can't take this leave more than three times in her entire career except for those females employed in a vacation department. If a female civil servant takes leave after the third time, she will have to take leave from her leave account.
The Government of Punjab has amended the Revised Leave Rules, 1981 on 30th October, 2012 and now a female civil servant can take maternity leave of a maximum of 90 days outside her leave account at any time immediately before or after the birth of a child. Moreover, she is no longer required to provide fitness certificate for the purpose of joining duty after availing such leave.
Can my employer discriminate against me for taking maternity leave?
Your employer can't terminate your services, even six months before delivery, simply to avoid the payment of maternity benefit. However, he has the authority to terminate you if he has sufficient and legitimate reasons for the decision.
It is also illegal for your employer to dismiss you during the term of maternity leave.
If your employer contravenes any of the above provisions, you may file a complaint to the provincial labor department (district labor officer). Prosecution can be instituted only by or with the prior sanction of the Inspector of Factories. You should file compliant of any offence within six months of the date that alleged offence was committed
What are the legal provisions on employing pregnant workers in dangerous or unhealthy work?
Health and safety provisions are usually found in Factories Act and Hazardous Substances Rules. However, these provisions are gender neutral and none specifically requires special protection for pregnant workers. Still, section 3 of Maternity Benefits Ordinance requires employers not to hire a women worker during the 6 weeks following her confinement. There are no particular provisions for protecting workers before or during pregnancy.
What are legal provisions on breast-feeding at workplace?
There is no clear provision on breast-feeding (breaks) however Factories Rules (93 under section 33-Q) require employer to facilitate nursing mothers at the workplace. Every factory wherein more than 50 women are employed has to provide a room or rooms for the use of children, under the age of 6 years, belonging to these women workers. It also requires employers to hire a trained nurse and a female servant to attend to these children during working hours. Women workers can also use these rooms for breast-feeding during their rest/meal breaks. These rooms are restricted only to children, their attendants and children’s mothers.
Is there a provision for paid paternity leave in Pakistan?
Paid Paternity Leave for new father is not usually provided under the labour legislation for the private sector. However, the Government of Punjab has amended the Revised Leave Rules, 1981 on 30th October, 2012 and now a male civil servant can take paternity leave of a maximum of seven (7) days outside his leave account immediately on or after the birth of a child. However, this paternity leave on full pay is admissible only two times during the entire service.