Madras HC chooses liberal approach in granting maternity leave

The Court pointed out that the birth of a child is like a second birth for the mother, and given the hardships endured in childbirth, women employees cannot be denied maternity leave basis minor technicalities

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The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (Coimbatore) or TNSTC had denied maternity leave to a woman employee simply because she had only put in 145 days of service. As per the rules, to avail maternity leave, the employee, who is not a permanent worker, should have put in at least 160 days of service.

The writ appeal by the Corporation was dismissed by the Bench consisting Justice S Vaidyanathan and Mohammed Shaffiq, who observed that a woman worker cannot be deprived of maternity benefits basis minor technicalities in the rules.

The Court went on to point out to government officials that women have always been considered superior to men and regarded as equal to God in Hindu mythology. At a time when Central and state governments are going out of their way to empower women and uplift them, it was unfair to hold back maternity benefits on the basis of some minor clauses.

The Division Bench even went on to explain how labour pain feels like 20 bones in the body being crushed at the same time, and that it takes extraordinary strength to bear it; and that childbirth is an extraordinary feat that men or even normal human beings can never achieve. Therefore, rules need to be liberally approached while granting maternity leave to women employees.

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