Publishes by The Daily Star on July 21, 2015 (Link Above)

This week Your Advocate is Barrister Omar Khan Joy, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh. He is the head of the chambers of a renowned law firm, namely, ‘Legal Counsel’, which has expertise mainly in commercial law, corporate law, family law, employment and labor law, land law, banking law, constitutional law, criminal law, IPR and in conducting litigations before courts of different hierarchies.

I am working in a private organisation and am currently pregnant. I have seen that, whenever any female employee becomes pregnant the organisation terminates her to avoid providing maternity benefit. I am quite worried about my employment with the organisation as my family is largely depended on this job. What is our right in relation to maternity benefit and leave and how the employer is bound to provide the same to us? It is legal in Bangladesh to terminate a staff for becoming pregnant?

Salina Hossain

I would like to thank you for soliciting my advice in relation to very important topics of maternity benefit and leave. It is really unfortunate to know that the organisation where you are working has indulged into immoral and illegal practice of terminating pregnant employees. Adding to the dismay, I must say that your organisation in not the only one; there have been many. It is important that the employees of the organisation, particularly the pregnant employees shall strongly protest such illegality.

Barrister Omar Khan Joy

Maternity benefit is the right of a working woman and the employer of the establishment is legally obliged by the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 to provide such benefit towards its female employees. Chapter IV of the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 specifically deals with ‘Maternity benefit’. This  Chapter clearly stipulates the right, benefit, leave etc. of a female worker during the maternity period.As you are working in a Private Organisation you should be entitled to have sixteen (16) weeks maternity leave, which are eight weeks before delivery and eight weeks after your delivery. On the other hand, someone working in a Government organisation, i.e. a female public servant is entitled to six (6) months’ maternity leave.

Besides, during the leave period, the employee is entitled to receive benefit amount. This is slightly higher than her actual basic wage. Section 46 and 48 of Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 specifically address the payment and amount of maternity benefit and also liability of the employee in this regard.

Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 has, however, imposed certain pre-conditions for availing the said benefits from the organization. To qualify for maternity benefit, the female employee has to work in the said organization for a period of at least 6 (six) month. Another condition is, if the female employee already has two or more surviving children then, she will only get leave in relation to maternity but no payment of benefit is compulsory for her third or more number of children.

I hope the above mentioned sections can help you to understand that, maternity leave and benefit is the right of a female employee and the employer is bound in the eye of the law to provide the same. If the organization does not want to provide any sort of maternity benefit towards its female employee then, they will be held liable for violation of the Bangladesh Labour Act 2006. The same shall be bought to the attention of the Inspector General, Ministry of Labour and Employment. If situation warrants, action shall have to be brought before the court.

You will be relieved to know that, there is specific law for not firing pregnant woman during her pregnancy. Section 50 of the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006 is about the ‘Restriction on termination of employment of women in certain case’. As per this provision, if a female employee is terminated during her pregnancy without any reason, she shall still be entitled to the maternity benefit.

I hope that your employer will be prudent enough to abide by the very important provisions of law from a legal and social point of view. I wish you good luck!

For detailed query contact: omar@legalcounselbd.com