Our honorable Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has mentioned that women constitute 50% of our nation’s population, and if they do not come out and work, then our country that is India will never grow at the pace we all envision or visualize it to grow.
The government of India has enacted and amended laws to protect female employee rights in India.
What Are Rights For Female Employees In India?
1. The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, 2017
The amendment of this act has expanded the term of the maternity leave and added various new provisions.
Now, the maternity leave is of 26 weeks. The pre-natal leave is of 2 months. A women with two kids will get 12 weeks of leave and her pre-natal/birth leave will be of a month and a half.
A woman who has adopted a kid younger than 3 months will be granted a 12 weeks’ leave period. Again, an authorizing mother is eligible to get 12 weeks’ leave from the date the baby is given over to her.
The businesses must educate a female employee about her rights under the particular act at the time of appointment. The data is supposed to be delivered in both written and electronic form (email).
Government employees who are females are eligible for 180 days of maternity leave for their first two live conceived children.
New mothers can choose to do telecommuting/work from home after the completion of leave period of 26 weeks.
Crèche facility is made mandatory for every foundation that utilizes minimum 50 representatives. Female employees can visit the crèche 4 times during the day.
2. The Sexual Harassment Of Women At Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, And Redressal) Act, 2013 (“SHA”)
In the Sexual Harrassment Act, the definition of sexual harassment is aligned with the definition of the Supreme Court in the Vishkha Judgement. The act includes any type of direct and implicated sexually determined behavior that is unwelcomed.
- Physical contacts and advances
- Sexually colored remarks
- Request or demand for sexual favors
- Displaying or showing pornography
- Any other types of verbal, physical and non-verbal sexual conducts
Moreover, the act made it obligatory for the employers to deal with sexual complaints and other aspects like:
- Provision of a safe working environment for female employees
- Showing of penal consequences of acts containing sexual harassment along with the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in a conspicuous way at the workplace
- Organizing awareness programs and workshops at regular intervals to make employees aware of the issues as well as the implications of sexual harassment in the worksites.
- Organizing orientation programs for the ICC members
- Treating sexual harassment as a crime or misconduct under the service rules
- Initiating necessary actions for the misconducts
3. The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 (“Equal Remuneration Act”)
As per Article 39 of Indian Constitution, states shall, in particular, have policies towards making equal pay for equal work for both women and men secured.
Under this act:
- Employers should pay equal remuneration to both male and female employees performing similar or same works.
- Employers are not allowed to discriminate between male and female during recruitment unless there prevails a restriction under the law to employ females in specific industries.
4. Minimum Wages Act, 1948
- Women must receive wages as every working individual must be paid for his/her work.
- An individual must be paid at least minimum wages that the government has fixed under this act.
- Every female must be paid equal wage as a male for the same kind of work that is equal to that of male and not less.
- Employers must give minimum wages to an individual even if the person agrees to work in less wages than that prescribed by our government.
- Minimum wages should be confirmed on daily, hourly, and monthly basis.
- Female workers involved in scheduled employment like agricultural sector should be paid same wages as their male counterparts as fixed by the specific government.
5. The Factories Act, 1948 (“Factories Act”)
- This act holds exclusive provisions for female workers/employees.
- It has stipulated working hours for all adult employees or workers.
- Overtime pay should be given to workers who work beyond the prescribed or stipulated hours.
- It also has provisions related to rest period or intervals during working days, annual leaves, weekly off, etc.
- Night shifts must be on rotational basis.
- The management must fix working hours and shift timings beforehand and display on the factory’s notice board.
- Women employees are only allowed to work in a factory between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. The state governments may vary the time limits by notification, but, no matter what, female employees are not allowed to work in between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
- Women employees’ shift timing can’t be changed except after holidays, be it weekly or others. Women workers should get minimum 24-hours’ notice for any change in shift timing.
- This act has put some prohibitions for women employees in respect to work in any hazardous occupation, in pressing cotton, especially where a cotton opener is working. Again, there are limits set to the maximum permissible load for women employees.
- Employers who have employed 30 or more female employees should provide crèches for their children aged 6 and below.
- Other facilities are needed to be provided to female employees like washing and bathing facilities, toilets including separate urinals and latrine for women, canteens, and restrooms.
However, state governments issue notifications from time to time regarding amending provisions of this act that are applicable for factory workers in that specific state. Our honorable Ex-President Pranab Mukherjee gave his valuable assent or approval to the Maharashtra Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2015. According to the Bill, women can work in factories in night shifts. Also, the factory management must ensure women workers’ security during night shifts.
Women Employee Rights Are Made To Be Considered, Not Ignored
The nature of work in specific industries may need female employees to work beyond the limits as prescribed. For this, they must take prior permission from the respected authorities. The employers must provide adequate security, safe environment, and transport to residence for women employees working late nights.
Moreover, women employees must be placed in particular groups during night working hours and not alone. The state governments boast independent IT/ITES policies addressing the issues of females working in night shifts, especially in IT sector, along with several measures that the employers are supposed to undertake for ensuring the safety of their women employees.
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