A judgment passed by the Kerala High Court said that women employees working on contract should also be able to enjoy maternity benefits.
The petition was filed by Ms Rasitha CH, who had been working as an assistant professor-medical microbiology on contract basis, at the School of Health Sciences, in Calicut University. Since the time of her joining in 2008, her contract had been renewed annually. But the University denied her maternity benefits, pointing out that nothing on those lines was mentioned in her contract/agreement.
However, the petitioner’s counsel drew the Court’s attention to the case of Rakhi P.V. and Others V. State of Kerala & Another, wherein it was ruled that contractual women employees were entitled to maternity benefits. At the time, the judgment had been affirmed by the Division Bench of the court.
According to the Court, maternity benefits cannot be considered mere statutory rights or benefits mentioned on agreements but that it is a woman’s right to dignity. The Court held that women should not have to choose between motherhood and employment.
The University will have to grant maternity benefits to the contractual employee, irrespective of what the agreement said, within two months. She will also be entitled to all the leaves applicable to the regular employees.