In today’s globalised liberalised scenario, women form an integral part of the Indian workforce. In such an environment, the quality of women’s employment is very important and depends upon several factors. The foremost being equals access to education and other opportunities for skill development. This requires empowerment of women as well as the creation of awareness among them about their legal rights and duties. In order to ensure this, the Govt. of India has taken several steps for creating a congenial work environment for women workers.
The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 provides for payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers for same work or work of similar nature without any discrimination and also prevents discrimination against women employees while making recruitment for the same work or work of similar nature or in any condition of service subsequent to recruitment. The Act extends to the whole India.
The Act provides that no employer shall pay to any worker, employed by him in an establishment or employment, remuneration, whether payable in cash or in kind, at rates less favourable than those at which remuneration is paid by him to the workers of the opposite sex in such establishment or employment for performing the same work or work of a similar nature and employment shall not reduce the rate of remuneration of any worker.
Section 6 of the Act makes provisions for the development of women by providing them increasing employment opportunities. Section speaks for the constitution of Advisory Committees to advise Government regarding the extent of number of women workers in establishments. Section 7 of the Act empowers Government to appoint Authorities for dealing with claims and complaints. Further sub sections dealt with powers, procedures, etc. of such Authorities in dealing with such complaint or claims.
The main provisions of the Act are:-
- No employer shall pay any worker, employed by him/her in an establishment, a remuneration (whether payable in cash or in kind) at rate less than that at which remuneration is paid by him/her to the workers of the opposite sex in such establishment for performing the same work or work of a similar nature. Also, no employer shall, for the purpose of complying with the Act, reduce the rate of remuneration of any worker.
- No employer shall, while making recruitment for the same work or work of a similar nature, or in any condition of service subsequent to recruitment such as promotions, training or transfer, make any discrimination against women except where the employment of women in such work is prohibited or restricted by any law.
- Every employer shall maintain registers and other documents in relation to the workers employed by him/her in a prescribed manner.
- If any employer:- (i) makes any recruitment in contravention of the provisions of this Act; or (ii) makes any payment of remuneration at unequal rates to men and women workers for the same work or work of a similar nature; or (iii) makes any discrimination between men and women workers in contravention of the provisions of this Act; or (iv) omits or fails to carry out any direction made by the appropriate Government, then he/ she shall be punishable with fine or with imprisonment or with both.
- Where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company, every person who at the time the offence was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed, to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
If any employer:-
- Makes any recruitment in contravention of the provisions of this Act;
- Makes any payment of recruitment at unequal rates to men and women workers for the same work or work of a similar nature;
- Makes any discrimination between men or women workers in contravention of the provisions of this Act;
- Omits or fails to carry out any directions made by the appropriate Government.
Then he/she shall be punishable with fine or with imprisonment or with both.
Discrimination on the basis of Sex or Gender must be abolished, further, it is sad to learn that there is an enactment to protect the interest and remove the prejudice.
I would like to end the write up with my favourite quote “I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men, they are far superior and always have been.”