Equal Remuneration Act 1976 – The principle of equal pay for equal work to men and women workers has been gaining increasing acceptance all over the world. In many countries, laws have been passed prohibiting discrimination between men and women in matters relating to payment of wages for the same or similar work. Article 39 under the Directive Principles of the State Policy of the Indian Constitution enjoins upon the state to secure equal pay for equal work for both men and women.
In 1958, the Government of India ratified ILOS Equal Remuneration Convention No. 100, 1951 which calls for equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value.
The convention also suggest that the principle may be applied by national laws and regulations, legally established or recognised machinery for fixing wages, collective agreements or by combination of these methods.
The Equal Remuneration Recommendation suggests various procedures to be followed for ensuring a progressive introduction of the principle. With a view to giving effect to the Constitutional provisions as well as those of ILOS Convention No. 100, the Equal Remuneration Ordinance was promulgated in September, 1975. The Ordinance was replaced by an Act of the same name in 1976.
Objectives of Equal Remuneration Act 1976
- To pay equal remuneration to men and women workers,
- To prevent discrimination, on the ground of sex, against women in the matter of employment,
- To provide increasing opportunity to women, and
- To set-up an Advisory committees to promote employment opportunities for women.
Payment of Remuneration at Equal Rates to Men and Women Workers
(1) Duty of Employer to Pay Equal Remuneration [Section 4] – Section 4 lays-down an obligation to pay equal remuneration to men and women workers for same work or work of a similar nature –
(i) 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.
(ii) No employer shall, for the purpose of complying with the provisions of sub-section (1), reduce the rate of remuneration of any worker.
(iii) Where, in an establishment or employment, the rates of remuneration payable before the commencement of this Act for men and women workers for the same work or work of a similar nature are different only on the ground of sex, then the higher (in cases where there are only two rates), or, as the case may be, the highest (in cases where there are more than two rates), of such rates shall be the rate at which remuneration shall be payable, on and from such commencement, to such men and women workers. However, nothing in this sub-section shall be deemed to entitle a worker to the revișion of the rate of remuneration payable to him or her with reference to the service rendered by him or her before the commencement of this Act.
(2) No Discrimination to be made while Recruiting Men and Women Workers [Section 5] – Section 5 has been designed to check any tendency on the part of the employers to discriminate in the matter of employment against women who are entitled to receive equal remuneration that paid to men.
On and from the commencement of this Act, 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 or under any law for the time being in force.
However, the provisions of this Section shall not affect any priority or reservation for scheduled castes or scheduled tribes, ex- servicemen, retrenched employees of any other class or category of persons in the matter of recruitment to the posts in an establishment or employment.