Lucknow- Maternity leave is a paid benefit provided to expecting or pregnant women, allowing them time off before and after childbirth. In a positive move, Lucknow University has extended this privilege to its female students, aligning with practices already prevalent in the government and corporate sectors.
According to the university's notice, female candidates pursuing research scholarships will be eligible for maternity leave once during their entire tenure. However, this leave will not be considered when calculating the minimum requirement of 36 months for Ph.D. thesis submission. In such cases, the full 36-month requirement must still be fulfilled.
Durgesh Srivastava, the university's spokesperson, informed the media that Ph.D. students will receive leave in accordance with UGC guidelines, while B.Ed and M.Ed students will follow the rules outlined by the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE).
UGC regulations regarding maternity leave were established in 2016 with the "Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of MPhil / PhD Degrees Regulations." These regulations stipulate that female scholars can avail themselves of maternity leave for a maximum of 240 days. In 2021, the UGC issued a circular urging Vice Chancellors of all universities to establish appropriate rules for granting maternity leave to women students. This circular also emphasized providing relaxations or exemptions related to attendance and deadlines for women students pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
In November 2023, the NCTE extended maternity leave benefits to students pursuing B.Ed and M.Ed, allowing them to extend their study period by the duration of their leave. Notably, Calicut University had become the first university to grant maternity leave to its female students back in 2013.
Maternity benefits in India are governed by the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017. The Act allows a maximum of 26 weeks of maternity leave, which women can take both before and after childbirth. During this period, eligible employees are entitled to receive a percentage of their wages as maternity benefit, as specified in the Act. For the third and subsequent child, mothers are eligible for 12 weeks of maternity leave. Importantly, a woman is eligible for maternity leave under the Act only if she has worked with the employer for at least 80 days in the 12 months preceding her expected delivery date.