MATERNITY BENEFITS ORDINANCE

Arrangement of Sections

1. Short title.

2. Woman worker not to be employed for four weeks after her confinement.

3. Period for which maternity benefit must be paid.

4. Repealed.

5. Liability of employer and rate of maternity benefits.

6. Women worker not to claim benefits, in respect of the same confinement, from more than one employer.

7. Notice to employer of confinement or expected confinement.

8. Payment of maternity benefit.

9. Payment of maternity benefit before death of woman.

10. Woman worker not to be given notice of dismissal during authorised absence from employment.

10A. Employment not to be terminated because of pregnancy or confinement or of illness in consequence thereof.

10B. Work which is prohibited during pregnancy and after confinement.

11. Right to maternity benefit unaffected by notice of dismissal in specified circumstances.

12. Liability to pay maternity benefits to be first charge on assets.

12A. Establishment and maintenance of creches.

12B. Provision of nursing intervals for nursing mothers.

13. Power to obtain information or copies of registers of women workers.

14. Powers of inspection.

15. Regulations.

16. Offences and penalties.

17. Prosecutions not to be instituted except or with sanction of sanction commissioner.

18. Prosecutions to be instituted within six years of date of offence.

19. Contracting out.

20. Application of other written law.

21. Interpretation.

32 of 1939,

35 of 1946,

26 of 1952,

6 of 1958,

24 of 1962,

1 of 1966,

13 of 1978,

52 of 1981,

43 of 1985,

15 of 2018.

AN ORDINANCE to make provision for the payment of Maternity Benefits to women workers and for other matters incidental to the employment of such women before and after their confinement.

[Date of Commencement: 28th July, 1941]

1. Short title.

This Ordinance may be cited as the Maternity Benefits Ordinance.

2. Woman worker not to be employed for four weeks after her confinement.

No employer shall knowingly employ a woman worker at any time during the period of four weeks immediately following her confinement.

3. Period for which maternity benefit must be paid.

(1) The period for which any woman shall be entitled to the payment of maternity benefits shall be—

(a) twelve weeks, that is to say two weeks up to and including the day of her confinement and ten weeks immediately following that day, if the confinement results in the issue of a live child; and

(b) six weeks, that is to say two weeks up to and including the day of her confinement and four weeks immediately following that day, if the confinement does not result in the issue of a live child:

Provided however, that where such woman worker has worked in her employment for any number of days during the aforesaid period of two weeks referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b) she shall be entitled to the payment of maternity benefits for that number of days immediately after her confinement commencing from the day immediately after the date on which the aforesaid period of ten weeks or four weeks as the case may be, ends.

[S 3(1) subs by s 2 of Act 15 of 2018.]

(2) If a woman dies during the twelve weeks referred to in paragraph (a) or six weeks referred to in paragraph (b) of subsection (1), the maternity benefit shall be payable only for the days up to and including the day of her death.

[S 3 subs by s 2 of Act 43 of 1985.]

4. …

[ S 4 Rep by Act 13 of 1978 ]

5. Liability of employer and rate of maternity benefits.

(1) The employer of a woman worker shall pay to such woman worker maternity benefits at the prescribed rate—

(a) for the entirety of the period of two weeks immediately preceding the confinement and of the period of ten weeks immediately following her confinement if such confinement results in the issue of a live child; and

(b) for the entirety of the period of two weeks immediately preceding the confinement and of the period of four weeks immediately following her confinement, if the confinement does not result in the issue of a live child:

Provided however, where such woman worker has worked in her employment on any number of days during the aforesaid period of two weeks referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b), she shall be entitled to maternity benefits for such number of days after her confinement.

(2) The periods in respect of which payments of maternity benefits shall be made under this section shall be in addition to any holiday or leave to which she is entitled.

[S 5 subs by s 3 of Act 15 of 2018.]

6. Women worker not to claim benefits, in respect of the same confinement, from more than one employer.

Nothing in the provisions of section 5 shall be deemed to entitle any woman worker to claim the maternity benefits referred to in this Ordinance from more than one employer in respect of the same confinement.

[S 6 subs by s 4 of Act 15 of 2018.]

7. Notice to employer of confinement or expected confinement.

(1) A woman worker may, prior to her confinement, give notice to her employer that she expects to be confined within a month from the date of such notice.

(2) A woman worker who has been confined shall, within one week of her confinement give notice to her employer of the date on which she was confined and for the purpose of ascertaining the number of days, she will be permitted to absent herself from the employment specify whether confinement resulted in the issue of a live child or not;

[S 7(2) subs by s 5(1) of Act 15 of 2018.]

(3) A woman worker who gives notice under subsection (1) or subsection (2) may in such notice nominate some other person to whom her maternity benefit may be paid on her behalf; and any payment of any maternity benefit made to the person so nominated shall, for the purposes of this Ordinance, be deemed to be payment to the woman worker who nominated such person.

(4) The employer shall on receipt of a notice from a woman worker under subsection (1) or subsection (2), permit that woman worker to absent herself from employment—

(a) for two weeks immediately preceding, and ten weeks immediately following her confinement if the confinement results in the issue of a live child; and

(b) for two weeks immediately preceding and four weeks immediately following her confinement,if the confinement does not result in the issue of a live child:

Provided, however, where such woman worker has worked in her employment for any number of days during the aforesaid period of two weeks referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b), she shall be permitted to absent herself from employment for such number of days after her confinement commencing from he day immediately after the date on which the aforesaid period of ten weeks or four weeks, as the case may end.

[S 7(4) subs by s 5(2) of Act 43 of 1985.]

(5) The leave to which a woman worker is entitled under this Act in consequence of any confinement shall be in addition to any holiday or leave to which she is entitled under any other law or regulation.

[S 7(5) ins by s 5(3) of Act 15 of 2018.]

8. Payment of maternity benefit.

The amount of maternity benefit for the period up to and including the day of confinement shall be paid by the employer to the woman within forty-eight hours of the production of such proof of confinement as may be prescribed. The amount due for the subsequent period shall be paid to the woman in two installments at the end of the second and the fourth week, respectively, after her confinement.

The provisions of this section shall apply in relation to the woman whether or not she has given notice of her confinement to her employer under section 7(2):

[S 8 proviso ins by s 4 of Act 24 of 1962; am by s 6 of Act 15 of 2018.]

Provided however, that for the purpose of ascertaining the period for which such woman worker is entitled to the payment of maternity benefit, she shall inform her employer of whether or not her confinement resulted in the issue of a live child or not.

[S 8 proviso ins by s 6 of Act 15 of 2018.]

9. Payment of maternity benefit before death of woman.

If a woman worker entitled to maternity benefit under the provisions of this Ordinance dies during the period for which she is entitled to such benefit, the employer shall pay the amount of maternity benefit due to the person nominated in the notice given under section 7(3) or, if there is no such person, to her heir-at-law.

10. Woman worker not to be given notice of dismissal during authorised absence from employment.

When a woman worker absents herself from work in accordance with the provisions of this Ordinance, it shall not be lawful for her employer to give her notice of dismissal during such absence or on such a day that the notice will expire during such absence.

10A. Employment not to be terminated because of pregnancy or confinement or of illness in consequence thereof.

(1) The employment of a woman worker shall not be terminated by reason only of her pregnancy or confinement or of any illness consequent on her pregnancy or confinement.

(2) Where an employer is prosecuted for the offence of acting in contravention of the provisions of subsection (1), the burden of proving that the employment of the woman worker was terminated by reason of some fact other than her pregnancy or confinement or any illness consequent on her pregnancy or confinement shall be upon the employer.

[S 10(A) ins by s 3 of Act 6 of 1958.]

10B. Work which is prohibited during pregnancy and after confinement.

(1) Where a woman worker gives notice to her employer that she expects to be confined within such period (not exceeding three months), from the date specified in the notice, as may be so specified, she shall not be employed, or be caused or permitted to be employed, during the period commencing on that date and ending on the date immediately preceding the date of her confinement, on any such work as may be injurious to her or her child.

(2) A woman worker who is confined shall not be employed, or be caused or permitted to be employed, during the period of three months commencing on the date of her confinement, on any work referred to in subsection (1).

[S 10(B) ins by s 3 of Act 6 of 1958.]

11. Right to maternity benefit unaffected by notice of dismissal in specified circumstances.

(1) No notice of dismissal given without sufficient cause by an employer to a woman worker within a period of five months before her confinement shall have the effect of depriving her of any maternity benefits to which but for such notice she would have been, or would on or before the date of her confinement have become, entitled under this Ordinance.

[S 11(1) am by s 7 of Act 15 of 2018.]

(2) If any question arises as to whether any notice of dismissal given under subsection (1) was or was not given for sufficient cause, it shall be referred to the Commissioner whose decision shall be final.

12. Liability to pay maternity benefits to be first charge on assets.

The liability of an employer to pay any sum of money as maternity benefits to a woman worker employed by him in any trade shall be first charge on the assets of that trade.

[S 12 subs by s 3 of Act 13 of 1978.]

12A. Establishment and maintenance of creches.

(1) The employer of more than a prescribed number of women workers in any trade shall establish and maintain, in accordance with regulations made in that behalf, a creche for children under five years of age, and shall allow any such worker who has in her care a child or children under five years of age, to leave such child or children in such creche during the hours when she is required to work for her employer.

[S 12(A)(1) subs by s 4 of Act 13 of 1978.]

(2) The Minister may, for the purposes of this section, prescribe a number for a trade or a branch of a trade, having regard to the number of women workers employed in, and the nature of the work a woman worker is required to perform in, such trade or such branch.

[S 12(A)(2) subs by s 4 of Act 13 of 1978.]

(3) Regulations may be made for the purpose of securing the proper maintenance and administration of crèches provided under this section, and generally for securing the health, safety and proper care of the children in such crèches.

(4) Without prejudice to the generality of the powers conferred by subsection (3), regulations may be made prescribing the conditions which shall be complied with in relation to crèches provided under this section, including conditions as to—

(a) the situation, construction, maintenance and cleanliness of such crèches;

(b) the minimum size of the wards or rooms of such crèches and the minimum floor space therein which shall be allowed for each child;

(c) the provision of adequate washing, latrine and other facilities for those using such creches; and

(d) the equipment and staff of such creches.

[S 12(A) ins by s 5 of Act 24 of 1962.]

12B. Provision of nursing intervals for nursing mothers.

The employer of a woman worker in any trade shall, if she is nursing a child under one year of age, allow her, in any period of nine hours, two nursing intervals at such times as she may require. Each interval shall, where a creche or other suitable place is provided by such employer to such worker for nursing such child, be not less than thirty minutes, and, where no creche or other suitable place is so provided, be not less than one hour, and shall be in addition to any interval provided to such worker for meals or rest under any written law and be regarded for the purposes of her employment, as time during which she has worked in her employment.

[S 12(B) ins by s 5 of Act 24 of 1962; subs by s 5 of Act 13 of 1978.]

13. Power to obtain information or copies of registers of women workers.

[Am by s 6 of Act 24 of 1962.]

(1) The Commissioner or any special officer may at any time by notice communicated to any employer require him to furnish before a specified date a return containing such particulars as may in the opinion of the Commissioner be necessary for the purposes of this Ordinance or a copy of the whole or a part of any such register of women workers as he may be required by any regulation to maintain, and it shall be the duty of such employer, when so required, to furnish such a return or copy to the Commissioner or that special officer before that date.

[S 13(1) am by s 6 of Act 24 of 1962.]

(2) Any notice of the Commissioner under subsection (1) shall be deemed to have been duly communicated to any employer to whom such notice is applicable if it is—

(a) published in the Gazette; or

(b) sent by letter posted to such employer at his usual place of business or residence.

14. Powers of inspection.

(1) The Commissioner or any special officer shall have the power—

(a) to enter and inspect at all reasonable hours by day and night for the purpose of ascertaining whether the provisions of this Ordinance have been complied with, any premises or place in which women workers are employed in any trade;

(b) to examine any register of women workers required by any regulation to be maintained by the employer of such workers;

(c) where any such register is not available for examination at the time of the inspection of such place or premises, to require the production of that register for examination at his office or at such place or premises; and

(d) to interrogate any person whom he finds in any such place or premises and whom he has reasonable cause to believe is the employer of women workers in the trade carried on therein or is a worker employed therein.

[S 14(1) subs by s 6 of Act 13 of 1978.]

(1A) It shall be the duty of the employer of women workers in any trade carried on in any place or premises to furnish the information required by the Commissioner or a special officer in inquiries made from that employer, for the purposes of ascertaining whether the provisions of this Ordinance have been complied with, during an inspection of such place or premises.

[S 14(1A) ins by s 7 of Act 24 of 1962; subs by s 6 of Act 13 of 1978.]

(2) The Commissioner and every special officer shall be a public officer within the meaning of the Penal Code.

15. Regulations.

(1) The Minister may make regulations for the purpose of carrying out or giving effect to the principles and provisions of this Ordinance, or in respect of all matters for which regulations are required or authorised to be made under this Ordinance.

[S 15(1) am by s 8 of Act 24 of 1962.]

(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the powers conferred by subsection (1), the Minister may make regulations for or in respect of all or any of the following matters—

(a) any matter required by or stated in this Ordinance to be prescribed;

(b) the preparation, maintenance and inspection of registers of women workers and the particulars to be entered in such registers;

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