Ordinance Nos,
32 of 1939
35 of 1946
Act Nos,
26 of 1952
[28th July
, 1941
Short title,

1. This Ordinance may be cited as the Maternity Benefits Ordinance.

Woman worker not to be employed for four weeks after her confinement.

2. No employer shall knowingly employ a woman worker at any time during the period of four weeks immediately following her confinement.

Period for which maternity benefit must be paid.


(1) The maximum period for which any woman shall be entitled to the payment of maternity benefit shall be six weeks, that is to say, two weeks up to and including the day of her confinement and four weeks immediately following that day.

(2) If a woman dies during the twelve weeks referred to in paragraph (a) or six weeks referred to in paragraph (b) of subsection (1), the maternity benefit shall be payable only for the days up to and including the day of her death.

Qualifying period of employment for maternity benefit.

[ 2, 35 of 1946.]


(1) No woman shall be entitled to maternity benefit unless she has worked under the employer from whom she claims such benefit for not less than one hundred and fifty days within the period of one year immediately preceding the date of the notice required by section 7 (2).

[ 2, 26 of 1952.]

(2) Where a change of employer occurs in any shop, mine, estate or factory in which a woman worker is employed, service rendered by that worker under the old employer shall be deemed to be service rendered under the new employer for the purpose of computing the period of employment by virtue of which she may be entitled to maternity benefit under subsection (1).

Liability of employer and rate of maternity benefit.

[ 3, 35 of 1946.]


(1) Subject to the provisions of subsections (2), (3) and (4), the employer of a woman worker shall pay to such worker maternity benefit at the prescribed rate for the entirety of the period of two weeks immediately preceding her confinement and of the period of four weeks immediately following her confinement.

(2) No woman worker who has worked in her employment on any day during the period of two weeks immediately preceding her confinement shall be entitled to any maternity benefit for that day or for that part of the period which precedes that day.

(3) Where the Commissioner has issued to any employer a written certificate which stales that such employer is an employer who has made arrangements for providing for woman worker employed on his estate such alternative maternity benefits as may be prescribed, such employer shall provide, in lieu of the maternity benefits referred to in subsection (1), those alternative maternity benefits

(a) to every female labourer who is resident on such estate ; and

(b) to every female labourer who is not resident on the estate and who has, prior to her confinement, given notice in the prescribed manner to such employer of her desire to receive those alternative maternity benefits.

(4) Any female labourer referred to in subsection (3) who refuses to accept from her employer the alternative maternity benefits referred to in that subsection shall not be entitled to receive the maternity benefit referred to in subsection (1),

(5) A certificate issued to any employer under subsection (3) shall be liable to be cancelled by the Commissioner, if the Commissioner is satisfied, after such inquiry as he may deem necessary, that the employer has ceased to make arrangements for providing for female labourers on his estate the alternative maternity benefits referred to in that subsection.

(6) Where a certificate issued to any employer of an estate under subsection (3) is cancelled by virtue of the provisions of subsection (5), the employer shall pay to the female labourers on his estate, the maternity benefit referred to in subsection (1).

(7) Where payment of money in cash is to be part of the alternative maternity benefits referred to in subsection (3), the Minister shall not prescribe as the amount of such payment any sum which exceeds, or any sums which in the aggregate exceed, four-sevenths of the total amount payable as maternity benefit under subsection (1).

(8) In the computation of the periods in respect of which payments are made under this section, Sundays and holidays shall be taken into account.

Women not to claim benefits, in respect of the same confinement, from more than one employer.

[ 4, 35 of 1946.]

6. Nothing in the provisions of section 4 or section 5 shall be deemed to entitle any woman to claim either the maternity benefit or the alternative maternity benefits referred to in this Ordinance from more than one employer in respect of the same confinement.

Notice to employer of confinement or expected confinement.


(1) A woman worker may, prior to her confinement, give notice to her employer that she expects to be confined within a month from the date of such notice.

(2) A woman worker who has been confined shall, within one week of her confinement give notice to her employer of the date on which she was confined and for the purpose of ascertaining the number of days she will be permitted to absent herself from the employment specify the number of children she has on such date on which she was confined.

(3) A woman worker who gives notice under subsection (1) or subsection (2) may in such notice nominate some other person to whom her maternity benefit may be paid on her behalf; and any payment of any maternity benefit made to the person so nominated shall, for the purposes of this Ordinance, be deemed to be payment to the woman worker who nominated such person.

(4) The employer shall, on receipt of a notice from a woman worker under subsection (1) or subsection (2), permit that woman worker to absent herself from employment until the expiry of four weeks after the day of her confinement.

(5) If a woman works in any employment after she has been permitted by her employer to absent herself under subsection (4), she shall forfeit her claim to the payment of maternity benefit to which she is entitled.

Payment of maternity benefit,

8. The amount of maternity benefit for the period up to and including the day of confinement shall be paid by the employer to the woman within forty-eight hours of the production of such proof of confinement as may be prescribed. The amount due for the subsequent period shall be paid to the woman in two instalments at the end of the second and the fourth week, respectively, after her confinement.

Payment of maternity benefit before death of woman.

9. If a woman worker entitled to maternity benefit under the provisions of this Ordinance dies during the period for which she is entitled to such benefit, the employer shall pay the amount of maternity benefit due to the person nominated in the notice given under section 7 (3) or, if there is no such person, to her heir-at-law.

Woman worker not to be given notice of dismissal during authorized absence from employment.

10. When a woman worker absents herself from work in accordance with the provisions of this Ordinance, it shall not be lawful for her employer to give her notice of dismissal during such absence or on such a day that the notice will expire during such absence.

Right to maternity benefit unaffected by notice of dismissal in specified circumstances.

[5,35 of 1946.]


(1) No notice of dismissal given without sufficient cause by an employer to a woman worker within a period of five months before her confinement shall have the effect of depriving her of any maternity benefit or alternative maternity benefits to which but for such notice she would have been, or would on or before the date of her confinement have become, entitled under this Ordinance.

(2) If any question arises as to whether any notice of dismissal given under subsection (1) was or was not given for sufficient cause, it shall be referred to the Commissioner whose decision shall be final.

Liability to pay maternity benefits to be first charge on assets.

[3, 26 of 1946.]

12. The liability of an employer to pay any sum of money as maternity benefit to a woman worker employed by him in any shop, mine, estate or factory shall be a first charge on the assets of that shop, mine, estate or factory.

Power to obtain information.

[ 6, 35 of 1946.]


(1) The Commissioner may at any time by notice communicated to any employer require him to furnish before a specified date a return containing such particulars as may in the opinion of the Commissioner be necessary for the purposes of this Ordinance, and it shall be the duty of such employer, when so required, to furnish such a return to the Commissioner before that date.

(2) Any notice of the Commissioner under subsection (1) shall be deemed to have been duly communicated to any employer to whom such notice is applicable if it is-

(a) published in the Gazette ; or

(b) sent by letter posted to such employer at his usual place of business or residence.

Powers of inspection.

[ 7, 35 of 1946.]


(1) The Commissioner or any special officer may at any time during the day enter any factory, estate, mine or shop where women are employed, for the purposes of inspection and of ascertaining whether the provisions of this Ordinance have been complied with or contravened; and, for such purposes, the Commissioner or such officer may make all such inquiries as he may deem necessary, and it shall be the duty of the employer of such women to furnish the Commissioner or the special officer with all such information as he may require.

(2) The Commissioner and every special officer shall be a public servant within the meaning of the Penal Code.



(1) The Minister[1] may make regulations for the purpose of carrying out or giving effect to the principles and provisions of this Ordinance.

(2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the powers conferred by subsection (1), the Minister1 may make regulations for or in respect of all or any of the following matters :-

(a) any matter required by or stated in this Ordinance to be prescribed ;

(b) the preparation, maintenance and inspection of registers of women workers and the particulars to be entered in such registers ;

(c) the inspection of factories, estates, mines, and shops;

(d) the manner of giving and serving notices under this Ordinance and the maintenance of notice-boards and notice-books ;

(e) the method of payment of maternity benefit in so far as provision has not been made therefor in this Ordinance ;

(f) the alternative maternity benefits required to be prescribed for the purposes of the exemption referred to in subsection (3) of section 5 ;

[ 8, 35 of 1946.]

(g) the duties and powers of a special officer under this Ordinance ;

(h) other matters incidental to or connected with the matters herein before enumerated.

(3) No regulation shall have effect unless it has been approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives.[1] Notification of such approval shall be published in the Gazette.

(4) Every regulation shall, on publication of the notification of the approval[1] of that regulation under subsection (3), be as valid and effectual as if it were herein enacted.

Offences and penalties.

[ 9, 35 of 1946.]

16. Any employer who acts in contravention of any provision of this Ordinance or of any regulation made thereunder, or any woman who claims any benefit under the Ordinance in respect of the same confinement from more than one employer, shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction after summary trial before a Magistrate, be liable to a fine not exceeding five hundred rupees.

Prosecutions not to be instituted except or with sanction of sanction commissioner.

17. No prosecution for any offence against this Ordinance regulation made thereunder shall be instituted except by the Commissioner or with his written

Prosecutions to be instituted within two years of date of offence.

[ 10, 35 of 1946.]

18. No court shall take cognizance of, or convict a person for, any offence against this Ordinance or any regulation made thereunder unless complaint thereof has been made within two years of the date on which the offence was committed. In computing the period of two years aforesaid, the time, if any, taken for the purpose of obtaining the previous sanction of the Commissioner shall be excluded.

Contracting out.

19. Any contract or agreement, whether made before or after the 28th day of July, 1941, whereby a woman relinquishes any right under this Ordinance shall be null and void in so far as it purports to deprive her of that right or to remove or reduce the liability of any person to pay maternity benefit under this Ordinance.

Application of other written law.

20. The provisions of this Ordinance shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other written law relating to the employment or remuneration of women or women workers and the conditions of such employment.


21. In this Ordinance, unless the context otherwise requires

[ 11, 35 of 1946.]

“Commissioner” means the person for the time being holding the office of Commissioner of Labour, and includes any person for the time being holding the office of Deputy Commissioner of Labour;

“employer” –

(a) when used with reference to a shop, mine or factory, means the owner thereof and includes any duly accredited manager, managing agent or other person who for the time being is in charge of the shop, mine or factory ; and

(b) when used with reference to an estate, means the owner or lessee of the estate and includes the superintendent or other person for the time being in charge of the estate ;

” employment” with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions means, when used with reference to a woman or a woman worker, employment in a shop, mine, estate or factory;

” estate” means any land on which all or any of the following are growing, namely tea, rubber, coffee, cacao, cardamoms or coconuts ;

” factory” means any premises, including the precincts thereof, in any part of which any manufacturing process is being carried on

” maternity benefit” means the amount of money payable under the provisions of this Ordinance to a woman worker;

” mine ” includes my undertaking, whether public or private, for the extraction of any substance from under the surface of the earth ;

” prescribed” means prescribed by this Ordinance or by regulation;

” regulation ” means a regulation made under this Ordinance by the Minister ;[1]

” shop” means any premises where any trade or business is carried on and includes a warehouse, hotel or restaurant;

[ 11, 35 of 1946.]

” special officer” means any Deputy or Assistant Commissioner of Labour, any inspector of the Department of Labour, or any person appointed by the Commissioner in writing for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this Ordinance ;

[ 11, 35 of 1946.]

” woman worker” means a woman employed on wages in any shop, mine, factory or estate in which ten or more persons are employed, whether such wages are calculated by time or by work done or otherwise and whether the contract of employment or service was made before or after the commencement of this Ordinance, and whether such contract is expressed or implied, oral or in writing.

Chapter 140 , Volume No. 5 Page No.828.