Employee may be permitted to telecommute after exhausting her maternity leave only if the nature of the work permits: Karnataka HC

The Karnataka High Court recently ruled that home work allowance can only be granted to an employee after having exhausted her maternity leave only if the nature of the work assigned to the employee allows her to perform her official job at residence.

The court ruled the same while denying parental leave relief to an employee of the Semiconductor Technology and Applied Research Center (STARC), a unit under the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

The court was hearing a case in which the claimant had worked in said position as a senior engineer in said center for eight years, reported Bar and Bench.

In August 2020, the petitioner gave birth to a baby girl and took maternity leave until February, after which she used personal leave until April 2021. She claimed that during the second wave of the Covid pandemic, she and other employees had received the benefit of working from home.

She then went to court, asking for the sanction of parental leave, the regularization of her salary and the release of her withheld salary.

“Although reference is made to section 5(5) of the (Maternity Benefits Act), Act 1961, it is clear from that provision that maternity benefits such as home work after taking maternity benefits could only be granted where the nature of the work assigned to women is such that it is possible for her to work from home…

Employees working with the fourth responding organization are involved in research that is both sensitive and complicated. Sensitive by the nature of the work being done in the sense that the research is for the benefit of the Government of India using the facility in defense matters and the research work will not be disclosed to the public. This would in itself prove that the nature of the work entrusted to the petitioner cannot be carried out from his home,” the report quoted the court as saying.

However, the court noted that child care facilities would be made available to the employee in the adjacent premises, adding that the defendant organization should consider her request for regularization sympathetically.

The organization stated that when the petitioner failed to take up duty after her leave of absence expired, a communication was sent to her stating that she was absent from work without leave and that this would be treated as an absence. unauthorized.

The organization said it was also mentioned that she would not be entitled to pay for this period and was informed that disciplinary action would be taken.

The petitioner has responded by pointing out the benefits that must be provided under the Maternity Benefits Act and two official memoranda issued by the Ministry of Personnel which provide for the granting of parental leave to female employees with children under 18 years old.

The claimant then applied to the Central Administrative Court of Bangalore for similar relief. The STARC sent him another communication noting that his candidacy had been withdrawn and asked him to resume his duties immediately and to regularize the absence from May 2021, according to the report.

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