Background: The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (the “Act”) is a labour legislation which regulates the employment of women for a certain period before and after child-birth in order to provide them with maternity benefits. The Act was amended vide the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, 2017 to grant certain additional benefits to eligible women employees. The crèche facility was made effective from July 01, 2017, as a mandatory requirement for every establishment employing 50 (Fifty) or more employees.

Legal Update: The Government of Karnataka, vide Notification dated July 15, 2019, has amended the Karnataka Maternity Benefit Rules by inserting a rule which gives us a detailed description about the crèche facility.

The key highlights of the amendment are as follows:

  • Age Limit: The employer shall provide and maintain a crèche for the use of children who are below the age of 6 (Six) years and there shall be one crèche for every 30 (Thirty) children.
  • Location: A crèche shall be located within the premises of the establishment or within 500 (Five Hundred) metres from the entrance gate of the establishment.
  • Building and Facilities: The building for crèche shall be constructed of materials that are heat resistant and waterproof in nature. The overall ecosystem of the crèche shall be clean, safe, secure and child friendly.
  • Staff: A woman who has government approved or recognized qualification and training in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) or Teachers Course Higher (TCH) or equivalent qualification, shall work as crèche-in-charge to look after the children.
  • Working Hours: The working hours of the crèche shall correspond to the working hours of the mothers or parents of the children admitted in the crèche.
  • Basic Medical Records: The crèche shall maintain the medical records of the children admitted in the crèche.
  • Supply of milk and refreshment: The crèche shall also maintain an adequate supply of hygienic pure milk, clothes, soap and oil for the children.
  • Outdoor Play Facilities: The employer shall ensure that the children have access to outdoor play space which is safe and secure.

Key Inference: In additition to the above, this amendment also provides for inclusiveness of children with special requirements and needs, thereby ensuring that they remain close to their mothers and parents at all times. It also enhances work efficiency as the employees are not distracted at work with bridging responsibilities. The maintenance of the quality of amenities in a crèche, as per the standards laid down in the National Early Childhood Care and Education Policy is also a welcome move, as it promotes the betterment and development of these children.

July 15th, 2019