The Karnataka High Court recently quashed an order passed by the officials of Employees State Insurance Corporation Medical College and Hospital (ESIC hospital), Kalaburagi which denied maternity leave to a doctor employed by the hospital [Dr. Swetha vs Union of India and others]
Single judge Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy of the High Court noted that according to an office memorandum of ESIC dated January 11, 2018, any teaching or non-teaching who has completed 80 days of service would be entitled to maternity leave.
According to the Maternity Benefit Act, female workers are entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks (84 days) of maternity leave. Out of these 12 weeks, six weeks leave is post-natal leave. In case of miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy, a worker is entitled to six weeks of paid maternity leave.
The petitioner, having completed 125 days of service, would therefore be entitled to maternity leave, the Court held.
The court in its order stated that A reading of Annexure-F (office memorandum) discloses that in respect of Teaching and Non-Teaching Staff, they are entitled to 26 weeks of Maternity Leave, subject to the condition that such person must have rendered at least 80 days of service in the past 12 months preceding the date of expected delivery, as envisaged in the Maternal Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017.
Dr. Swetha was employed as a Senior Resident in the Department of Medicine at ESIC hospital on a contract basis. She joined the services on July 24, 2018. After 125 days of service, she submitted a leave application in November 2018 seeking maternity leave but her request was denied.
She moved the Court placing reliance on the office memorandum issued on January 1, 2018, regulating maternity leave for those engaged on a contract basis in ESIC run institutions.
In the present case, the Court noted that the application was submitted in November 2018 seeking maternity leave for 26 weeks which terminated on May 19, 2019, and the petitioner delivered on December 24, 2018.
Therefore, the petitioner was entitled to the benefit of maternity leave even as per the office memorandum dated January 11, 2018, as she had completed 80 days of service, at the time maternity leave was applied for, the Court said.
Accordingly, the court allowed the petition filed by the petitioner and quashed the order denying maternity leave.
The court added that this Writ Petition is allowed and the impugned order passed by respondent No.5 is quashed. The leave sought by the petitioner for the period 26.11.2018 to 19.05.2019 is granted and the same shall be considered as 'on duty. The petitioner is also entitled to claim all bonuses that she is entitled to.
Advocate Ameet Kumar Deshpande appeared for the petitioner. Advocate Sudhirsingh R Vijapur represented the Union government while advocate Sanjeev Kumar C Patil appeared for ESIC Medical College.