38.6c New Delhi, India, Monday, February 06, 2023
Top Stories
Interviews Know The Law Book Reviews Videos
About Us Contact Us
Judiciary

Karnataka High Court Refuses Petition To Avail 'Work From Home' Under Maternity Benefit; It Can Be Granted Only If Nature Of Work Permits

By Lawstreet News Network      Mar 24, 2022      0 Comments      1,171 Views
Karnataka High Court Work From Home Maternity Benefit

A single judge bench of Justice R Devdas, Karnataka High Court, while refusing relief to an employee working with Semi-Conductor Technology and Applied Research Centre, ('STARC'), has reiterated that maternity benefits such as allowing an employee to work from home, under section 5 (5) of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017, could be given only in case where the nature of work assigned to the women is such that it is possible for her to work from home.

Case background: 

The petitioner, working as a Senior Executive Engineer with the organisation, had approached the Court challenging two communications issued by the respondent-organisation and sought a direction to the respondent to consider her representations for sanction of child care leave with retrospective effect and to regularise the petitioner's salary and to release the salary withheld from 24.05.2021. By these communications the petitioner was called upon to join duties immediately and regularise the absence from 24.05.2021.

Petitioners’ arguments

It was contended that the provisions of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 is applicable to the petitioner who is an employee of the respondent-organisation which is a fully funded organisation controlled by the Government of India. The petitioner should be allowed to carry on her work from home after availing the maternity benefit for the period as provided under the Act.

Moreover, notifications have been issued by the Central Government, directing all the Public Sector Undertakings, which include the respondent- organisation, to ensure that as far as possible, provisions should be made to lactating mothers to work from home, in view of the prevalence of COVID- 19 pandemic. Thus, it is the duty of the respondent-organisation to provide for child care leave and to permit the petitioner to work from home.

Respondents argued that the benefit of the Maternity Benefit Act 1961, is applicable to the respondent organisation but in respect of child care leave, in a meeting of the 14th STARC Employees Meet held on 31.03.2018, it was decided that providing crèche and day care facilities as per Maternity Benefit Act, 2017, was an option.

It was also said that the respondent-Organisation may not be equated to the Government of India and the facilities available to the Central Government employees.


Court findings: 

The court found that the petitioner has not been able to point out to any specific provision of law or rules that would mandate the fourth respondent organisation, to grant childcare leave facility as is available to the Central Government employees. 

A single judge bench of Justice R Devdas while refusing relief to the employee working with Semi-Conductor Technology and Applied Research Centre said –

In this regard, a specific decision is taken by the organisation in its meeting held along with its employees on 31.03.2018, that the premises of the organisation is sensitive and involved with risk due to usage of chemicals and toxic gases. The employees working with the organisation are involved in research work which is both sensitive as well as complicated. Sensitive, in the nature of the work done, in the sense that the research is for the benefit of the Government of India which uses the facility in the defence fields and the research work will not be divulged to the public. This in itself would prove that the nature of work assigned to the petitioner cannot be carried on from home.

It added, "The respondents are also on record, in their statement of objections that even during the period of lockdown, the top officials from the cadre of deputy managers have been functioning from the premises itself." 

In this regard, a specific decision is taken by the organisation in its meeting held along with its employees on 31.03.2018, that the premises of the organisation is sensitive and involved with risk due to usage of chemicals and toxic gases. The employees working with the organisation are involved in research work which is both sensitive as well as complicated. Sensitive, in the nature of the work done, in the sense that the research is for the benefit of the Government of India which uses the facility in the defence fields and the research work will not be divulged to the public. This proved work is sensitive and not suitable for work from home.

It added, "during lockdown the top officials from the cadre of deputy managers have been functioning from the premises itself."

Following which it granted liberty to the petitioner to make fresh representations regarding the unauthorised absence and seek regularisation of the same. The court said, "As and when such representations are given by the petitioner, after she joins duty, the Organisation shall consider such representations sympathetically and pass orders in the light of the observations made hereinabove."



Tags:
Karnataka high courtJustice R DevdasMaternity Benefit Amendment Act 2017 section 5 (5) Justice R Devdas
Share this article:


Lawstreet News Network
Editor
     



Leave a feedback about this




Related Posts
View All

TRENDING NEWS


TOP STORIES

Crime, Police And Law
Gorakhnath temple attacker awarded death penalty
6 days ago

ADVERTISEMENT


Lawstreet Advertisement

Signup for Our Newsletter

Get Exclusive access to members only content by email