Temporary or ad-hoc employees too must get maternity leave: Central Administrative Tribunal

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Temporary or ad-hoc employees too must get maternity leave: Central Administrative Tribunal

The order is of significance as till now most "expecting" ad-hoc/temporary women employees had to quit their jobs under the impression that they are not entitled to maternity leave.

In a ruling set to benefit lakhs of working women across the country, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has said that temporary or ad hoc employees are also entitled to maternity leave and consequent benefits.

The landmark verdict came on a petition filed by one Anuradha Arya, a 'guest teacher' at Government Girl's Senior Secondary School, West Patel Nagar, challenging the denial of benefits to her and the termination (communicated to her orally) after she was forced to take the most necessary break for a mother.

The order is of significance as till now most "expecting" ad-hoc/temporary women employees had to quit their jobs under the impression that they are not entitled to six months of maternity leave. But Anuradha showed courage to move court, which very few do.

The school had cited service rules to say that six month of paid maternity leave was available only to regular teachers and not to ad-hoc/temporary/contract teachers.

But deciding in favour of Arya at the end of the two-year legal battle, CAT judge Praveen Mahajan said it is a fact that contractual employees cannot be equated with regular staff for granting benefits but the request for maternity benefit had to be dealt on a different footing.

RULING BASED ON SC JUDGEMENT

The CAT based its ruling on a Supreme Court judgment of 2000 which said that women who constitute almost half of the segment of the society have to be honoured and treated with dignity in cases where they work to earn their livelihood.

"To become a mother is the most natural phenomenon in the life of a woman. Whatever is needed to facilitate the birth of child to a woman who is in service, the employer has to be considerate and sympathetic towards her and must realise the physical difficulties which a working woman would face in performing her duties at the workplace while carrying a baby in a womb or while rearing up the child after birth," the SC had said.

Arya had joined the school on September 15, 2014 and her appointment was renewed in July 2015. At that time her pregnancy was at an advanced stage. Her request for maternity leave was rejected by the principal. She later submitted several representations to other school authorities.

Arya was advised complete bed rest by her doctor. Under the circumstances, while she awaited response from school authorities, she was left with no option other than taking maternity leave.

But she was worried that the academic session was about to come to end and the school would start engaging ad-hoc teachers for the next academic session of 2016-17.

'ENTITLED TO MATERNITY LEAVE'

Directing the school to consider her claim and reinstate her to the post of guest teacher with all consequential benefits, including back wages, judge Mahajan said: "I am of the view that benefits of maternity leave with full salary cannot be denied to a female employee appointed on contractual basis. The applicant is entitled to maternity leave."

"The applicant may be allowed to resume service as a guest teacher in terms of her original engagement letter dated July 7, 2015. The school shall also give the back wages to the applicant with effect from December 1, 2015 till the disposal of this application with all consequential benefits for the academic year 2015-2016," said the court.