If you are pregnant and approaching the D-day when you shall submit the maternity leave application to your supervisor, then you need to scroll through this article. This is where you will learn everything that you need to know about drafting a maternity leave application properly. But before that, lets take a while to appreciate the struggles of women we have fought valiantly so that pregnant women and new mothers from subsequent generations can claim the rights they have.The Indian Journey of Maternity RightsIndias journey of maternity benefit rights dates back to 1929. The Bombay Maternity Benefit Bill became the first law to attempt to give maternity rights to women. However, the development manifested some unprecedented negative impacts, for instance, the textile industry, which used to employ mostly women, began to avoid hiring them in order to eschew maternity benefits and expenses.Despite B.R. Ambedkars repeated appeal about how maternity benefit is not only the responsibility of the Government but also the civil society, the Bill was passed placing the entire responsibility on the employers by taxing industries that employ women largely. But the business owners, on the other hand, did not want to add to their costs while having to keep up with the British and Japanese textile industries in terms of manufacturing and price. Mill owners also misunderstood the move and thought that the British government was only trying to set back the Indian textile industry under the garb of trying to help women.Todays Maternity Benefits ActArticle 42 of the IPC embodies the Maternity Benefits Act of 1961. It has been amended several times to address new issues that kept stemming from attempts to bring rights at work for mothers. 1972: Section 5A of the Maternity Benefits Act keeps maternity rights relevant with Employee State Insurance Act (1948). 1973: The Circus Industry got coverage under substitution of Section 1III of the Act. 1976: The reach of the Act was extended to the ESI Act by Section 5B. 1988: The Act was extended to any establishment with over 10 employees. The maternity benefits rates were revised. 1995: A six-week paid leave was mandated in case of medical termination of pregnancy. A two-week paid leave was mandated for women going for tubectomy. An additional four-week paid leave was mandated for complications arising from abortions or tubectomy. 2008: Expecting women entitled to up to INR 20,000 from employers in addition to their paid leave, in case of paid labour and post-natal care. 2011: The amount for the medical bonus from 2008 was increased. 2017: This was the last amendment where the paid maternity leave was increased to 26 weeks. Although, for a surrogate child or a third biological child, the duration is 12 weeks.Before you apply for maternity leave, know your rights standing today.Know Your Rights and Verify Company PolicyUnless you are childfree, check your company policies and the fine print before you sign a contract.The generic rules include: No strenuous or stressful work is to be assigned to a pregnant employee even while she is not on her maternity leave. A pregnant employee is to be exempted from any sort of appraisal throughout her pregnancy and the duration of the maternity leave. A pregnant employee or a new mother cannot be fired from her job or demoted under any circumstances during the maternity leave period. Additional medical aid and paid leave are to be provided in case of miscarriage or health complications throughout the pregnancy and during or after labour.Many employers have tried to fire pregnant employees under other excuses to bypass this rule. The above-mentioned rules exist to nullify this loophole.Drafting a Maternity Leave ApplicationDrafting a maternity leave application is not that difficult. It is okay if youve never seen or written one. Here is a walkthrough.1] FormatThe format is more or less similar to that of any formal application. This is how you do it:Your name,Your address,Postal code.Line breakDateLine breakTo,The Designation,Name of the Company,Branch/Address,Postal code.Line BreakSubjectLine breakAddress the recipient, (Avoid using Sir/Madam because you know who your employer is. Use either Sir or Madam.)Line breakState your identity as an employee and specify designation, add employee code if relevant. Next, you need to mention the pregnancy and give a ballpark of your due date. Although mentioning the due date is not a mandatory requirement, so you verbally mention the estimated date. State the duration you need the leave for, specifying the first and last day of leave.Line breakState your progress on a current project and if you have made arrangements for a temporary replacement. Usually, the employer takes care of it. Then formally request to approve the leave for the mentioned time frame.Line breakThanking You,Yours Sincerely/Faithfully,SignatureName in fullIn case of email: Start with the subject line. Do not include the address part or the date. Do not sign or mention your name if you have the signature feature turned on.You can enclose relevant documents right before or after the signature.2] ProofreadYour request will be approved, theres nothing to worry about. But dont be cavalier with the letter, and proofread and edit your letter carefully. If you are not very good at the language the letter is supposed to be in, dont shy away from asking a friend to help.If you are hand-writing it, make a rough draft first. If you are typing it out, check out for double spaces. Email is simpler and the commonest mode of application today. But the problem is there is a very narrow margin of error. So, check twice before hitting the Send button.Sample of Maternity Leave ApplicationHere is a sample maternity leave application that you can follow blindly. Just replace the specifics.Mrs/Miss Ira Moitra,BD-29, Salt Lake,Kolkata-700105.18th May 2022,To,The Principal,Starlight High School,18D, Minto Park,Kolkata- 700036.Subject: Request for Maternity Leave from 12th June 2022 to 18th October 2022.Dear Madam,This is to bring to your kind notice that I, Ira Moitra, Class Teacher of XIA and Biology Teacher at your school, am pregnant. I am due around 18th June 2022. I request a 136-days maternity leave from 12th June to 18th October 2022.I have completed the syllabus for the third quarter for grades XI and XII. The replacement teacher will only need to ensure practice tests. The syllabus for grades IX and X is covered till July. I request you to kindly approve my maternity leave request for the mentioned period and allot a temporary replacement for me.Enclosed:Copy of my doctors prescription for your perusal and documentation.Also, enclosed is a list of teachers who are eligible and available for the part-time position.Thanking you,Yours Faithfully,Ira Moitra.FAQsPregnant women have several questions during this confusing time. At least here you will find the answers to some job-related questions that often come up.1] Can I get fired for poor performance during pregnancy?It is illegal to fire a pregnant woman or a mother on maternity leave at any company that has over 10 employees. A decline in performance is anticipated during this time. Firing or demoting is not a risk at any legitimate company.2] Can I work throughout my pregnancy?Yes, you can. If your health permits, you can date your maternity leave application to start on the expected day of labour. Your employer is legally mandated to not assign you stressful or strenuous work during your pregnancy.3] Am I eligible for maternity leave?If you have worked for your company (that has over 10 employees) for 80 days in the previous year, you are eligible for maternity leave.4] Do I get maternity leave if I adopt or use surrogacy?Yes, you are still a mother even if you didnt go through pregnancy. An adoptive or commissioning mother gets 12 weeks of paid maternity leave from the date of getting the child in hand. The adoptive child has to be three years or younger to qualify for paid leave.