The Government had notified the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 on March 28, 2017 and the provisions of the Amendment Act came into force from April 1, 2017. Keeping in view queries received from various quarters, the Ministry of Labour & Employment, on April 12, 2017, had issued certain clarifications on various provisions of Amendment Act.
An appeal filed by an employee against his employer was disposed of, by holding that the employer cannot claim the benefits of an Ex Gratia scheme introduced by the employer, without complying with the conditions incorporated under the said scheme.
L&E Global’s 2017 Global Handbook | Employees vs Independent Contractors
The Supreme Court ruled that disciplinary proceedings conducted by the employer are liable to be quashed on account of violation of principles of natural justice, which may involve non-application of mind, non-recording reasons in support of finding, non-giving of fair and reasonable opportunity for leading evidence to the delinquent employee by the enquiry officer of the disciplinary authority.
The Supreme Court ruled that the High/Writ Court can alter the quantum of punishment or the punishment of dismissal of an employee, set by the disciplinary authority, only in exceptional circumstances where punishment awarded is wholly disproportionate, shaking the conscience of the High/Writ Court, such that interference by the High/Writ Court is to take place on the basis of the doctrine of proportionality.
The judgement of the Delhi High Court is specific to the nature of the inquiry reports of the Internal Complaints Committee (“ICC”), set up under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“Act”) to deal with complaints alleging sexual harassment.
The changes proposed through the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will have a major impact on the health, well-being and growth of the future generation in the country. It will have a positive impact on women’s participation in the labour force and will improve the worklife balance of female workers. The Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Act, 2016 will come into effect as soon as it receives the President’s assent.
This is a welcome step from the Government as not only would we save paper from the perspective of the environment, India would be viewed as a country where compliance of laws is manageable and not cumbersome, therefore, having a direct impact on the ease of doing business in the country.
(i) By virtue of amendment in the ESI Rules, an insured woman shall be entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave. However, an insured woman having 2, or more than 2, surviving children shall be entitled to receive maternity benefits during a period of 12 weeks, of which not more than 6 weeks shall precede the expected date of confinement; (ii) Rule 30 (3) of the EPF Scheme provides that it shall be the responsibility of the principal employer to pay both the contribution payable by him, in respect of the employees directly employed by him, and also in respect of the employees employed by or through a contractor, as well as administrative charges. The Employees’ Provident Fund Office published certain conditions to be followed by principal employers if they are advised to discharge the provident fund to the contract employees.
Recent rulings: i) It is not sufficient that the alleged misconduct of the employee constitutes an offence involving moral turpitude as per the report of the domestic inquiry. There must be termination on account of the alleged misconduct, which constitutes an offence involving moral turpitude, for the gratuity to be denied to such an employee; ii) The High Court cannot interfere with the decision of the disciplinary authority under each and every circumstance, unless it is found that the punishment/penalty awarded by the disciplinary authority/employer is wholly disproportionate – to an extent that it shakes the conscience of the High Court – and compels it to interfere and alter the punishment.