Labour Compliance

Labour Law Compliance relating to Women Employees

Labour Law Compliance relating to Women Employees

India has around 432 million women of working age in India, wherein  343 million are employed in the unorganized sector. It is estimated that providing equal opportunities to women in India could add US$ 770 billion to its GDP by 2025. Still, the present contribution of women to the GDP remains at 18%. In addition to this, the participation of women at work in the country has decreased from around 36 % in 2021 to a little over 33 % in 2022.

One of the reasons for this dip in participation is the lack of efforts on the employer’s part with regard to labour law compliance relating to women employees despite it being a statutory compliance requirement under various labour laws.

The article discusses the Labour Law Compliance relating to Women Employees, which can help the employer to be aware of such compliance requirements and adhere to the same in the best possible way.  

What is the Labour Law Compliance related to Women Employees?

The labour law compliance related to women is elaborated below –

Maternity Benefits

Maternity benefits are provided to women employees according to provisions of the Maternity Benefit Act 1961, which was enacted with the motive to provide remuneration and other benefits even during their absence from work owing to pregnancy.

Women must note that  the women becomes  eligible for maternity benefits under this Act,  if she  has  worked as an employee or contractor for a minimum of eighty  days in the preceding months for the employer.

The major compliance relating to women employees under this Act are –

  • Every employer employing a woman or any number of women is obligated to provide her with maternity benefits for twelve weeks at the same rate as her daily wages, which she would have been entitled to if she had been working under the employer
  • The women have the right to a maximum advance of 6 weeks out of the  12 weeks discussed above.
  • Every employer with prior knowledge of the woman’s pregnancy is prohibited from employing her for the last 6 weeks of her delivery.

Equal Remuneration to the Women Employees

Article 16 of the Indian Constitution deals with equal opportunity for the citizens of India, irrespective of gender, the same applies in the case of remuneration as well, leading to the enactment of the Equal Remuneration Act, which provides for the payment of equal remuneration to men as well as women workers with 

the view to prevent discrimination,  based on   gender against women in the  aspects  of employment or other matters connected therewith or incidental to the same is also enumerated in Section 4 of the said Act.

  • The labour law compliance related to women as per this Act is listed below-
  • Apart from the compliance requirement mentioned in Section 4 of the Act, every employer is prohibited from considering sex or gender as a point of discrimination while appointing male or female employees as per section 5 of the Act.
  • Another obligation is in respect of the maintenance of registers that contains documents and all information with regard to the employees that are employed by such employer, in the manner given under the Act.
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People’s Union for Democratic Rights Vs UOI 

This case is considered one of the landmark cases regarding the equal remuneration Act. The court held the following in this judgement – 

  •  The Employer is mandated to  provide equal remuneration to  male and female workers for the same or  similar nature of work
  • The employer is prohibited from paying any worker at rates lower than the favourable remuneration that he pays to the workers of the opposite sex for the same or similar nature of work
  • An employer cannot claim exemption on financial incapability from The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.
  • No discrimination should be done at the time of recruiting male and female workers.
  • No employer shall, while making recruitment of the same  or similar nature of work , or in recruitment  , promotions, training or transfer, make any discrimination against women in such work prohibited or restricted by  or as per any law at that time
  • The provisions of this section wouldn’t affect any priority or reservation for scheduled castes or scheduled tribes, ex-servicemen, or retrenched employees of any other category or class of persons in the matter related to recruitment to the posts in an establishment or employment.

Minimum Wages for the Women Employees

The provisions regarding minimum wages are prescribed under the Minimum Wages Act 1948, and the compliance relating to women employees are provided below – 

  • Every woman is entitled to wages because every person who works must be paid for their work.
  • Every woman must be paid at least a minimum wage, which is fixed by the government under the Minimum Wages Act 1948.
  • Equal pay for equal work also applies in terms of payment of minimum wages.
  • Even if a person agrees to work on lower wages than that prescribed by the government, the employer is obligated to pay the minimum wage.
  • The criteria for payment of minimum wages must be based on
    • Daily basis,
    • Hourly basis and
    • Monthly basis

Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace

One of the major issues faced by women employees in today’s time, which is why the government of India has made stringent rules to curb this issue. One such legislation in this regard is the POSH Act  which aims towards  providing  a safe and healthy environment to women employees along with the redressal of complaints against sexual harassment.

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The compliance requirements under this Act are –

  • Every employer who employs at least 10 or more people is obligated to set up an Internal Complaints Committee at every branch or office of its establishment.
  • This Act provides for such obligation to the government  wherein it is obliged to form a Local Complaints Committee for investigating the sexual harassment complaints at the district level in case the ICC is not yet established, or the employer is not obliged to establish one owning to any reason prescribed under the Act. 
  • The Internal Complaints Committee formed by the employer is under the obligation to make a time-bound inquiry of the complaints received by them from any women employee of the workplace. 
  • Every employer must follow the interim measures, which include the transfer of such aggrieved female employee to another branch or office or workplace grant of leave to the aggrieved female employee for a period not more than 3 months by the Internal Complaints Committee or the Local Complaints Committee.

Separate Toilets and Washing Facilities

Another compliance related to women employees is regarding separate toilets and washing facilities because these are important to ensure their right to privacy along with safety at the workplace. The compliance requirements in respect of the same as per various labour legislations are provided below –

  • Sec- 9 of the Plantations Labour Act, 1951
  • Rule 53 of the CLRA Act, 1970.
  • Section 19 of the Factories Act, 1948
  • Rule 42 of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (RECS) Central Rules, 1980.
  • Section 20 of the Mines Act, 1952.

Provision for separate washing facilities for female workers exists under the following legislations. 

  • Section 57 of the CLRA Act, 1970.
  • Section 42 of the Factories Act, 1948.
  • Sec- 43 of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (RECS) Act, 1979

Provision for Crèches

Crèches play an important role in the overall productivity of female workers as this facility gives satisfaction and confidence about the safety of their children, thereby helping them maintain a work-life balance and increasing women’s efficiency, which can positively impact  her productivity in the work premises

The various provision for crèches are enlisted under the following labour Laws 

Section 48 of the Factories Act, 1948

  • Section 44 of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (RECS) Act, 1979
  • Sec- 12 of the Plantations Labour Act, 1951
  • Sec- 14 of the Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966.
  • Section 35 of the BOCW Act 

A Prohibition from Hazardous work and health measures within Factories

The provisions regarding factories are governed under the Factories Act 1948, which provides for the safety of women workers from any bodily injury as per different Factories Rules prescribed depending upon the states. 

  • Section 22(2) elaborates that no woman shall be involved in the cleaning, lubrication or adjustment of any part of a prime mover or of any transmission machinery while the prime mover or transmission machinery is in motion or do the same to any part of any machine if the cleaning, lubricating or adjustment can put the  woman to risk of injury from any of the moving part of that machine or of any adjacent machinery.
  • Section 27 prohibits women’s employment in any part of a factory for  the purpose of pressing cotton  wherein  a cotton opener is at work.
  • Section 34 states that the State Government can make rules about the maximum weights which can be carried,lifted or moved by adult women, adult men, adolescents, as well as children employed in factories or in any description, class of factories,  in carrying on any specified process.
  • Section 87 (b) enumerates the authority  of the State Government to make special rules in respect of controlling and regulating factories carrying out operations that expose young persons, women, and any other workers to a serious risk of injury to the body , disease or poisoning 
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Working Hours for Women

Compliance relating to Women Employees regarding working hours is provided in various labour legislations such as-

  • Sec-66(1)(b) of The Factories Act, 1948, enumerates that women are prohibited from working in any factory except b/w 6  a.m.  and 7 p.m.
  • Sec-25  Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 states that a woman is prohibited from working in night shift, i.e. post 6 a.m. in the morning and 7 p.m in the evening. 
  • Sec-46(1)(b) of the Mines Act, 1952 provides that no women shall be employed in any mine above ground at night, i.e. the time between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • According to the Shops and Establishment Act, women wont be required or allowed to work in any establishment post 9:30 PM.
  •  A woman can work after 8;00 pm in ITes and the IT industry only if she is provided transportation to the doorstep and other security measures for women employees are complied with. 

Conclusion

Women’s empowerment with gender equality is a step towards the fulfilment of the fundamental rights of women. Labour compliance relating to women employees is pivotal in safeguarding the interests of the women employees at the workplace and encouraging women’s participation in the workforce, along with protecting the employer from the legal risks of non-compliance with the various compliance requirements in this regard. Therefore, in order to avoid any complexities, the employer must approach a professional who can guide him in such matters, helping the employer to ensure timely labour compliance.  

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