The Act came into force to provide for the payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers for the same work or work of similar nature and prevent discrimination on the ground of sex. The objective of the Act is to provide an impetus to women’s participation in the country’s workforce and to improve the quality of women’s employment. The Act was enacted to comply with the provisions of Article 39 (d) of the Directive Principle of State Policy, which envisages that every person has equal pay for equal work irrespective of sex.
Section 2(h) of the Act makes it the duty of the employer to pay equal remuneration to men and women workers for same work or work of a similar nature.
At the same time, for the purpose of complying with this duty, the employer cannot reduce the rate of remuneration of any worker, and in case of a difference in the remuneration before the enactment of this act, the employer is supposed to pay the higher of the remunerations to all.
Section 5 of the Act states that there should not be any discrimination while recruiting men and women workers by the employer, except where the employment of women in such work is prohibited or restricted by any law.
Section 6 of the Act deems the constitution of an Advisory Committee as essential for the purpose of providing increasing employment opportunities for women. As per the law, every Advisory Committee shall contain less than 10 persons, out of which half should be women. Lists down the powers, duties and processes by which the appropriate Government should appoint authorities for hearing and deciding claims and complaints through the appointment of officers.
Section 8 of the Act
, makes it the duty of employers to maintain registers and other documents in relation to the workers employed by them.
Section 9 of the Act lists down power and processes by which the appropriate Government could appoint Inspectors for the purpose of making an investigation as to whether the provisions of this Act, or the rules made thereunder, are being complied by employers.
Section 10 sets the penalties for non-compliance by the employer in relation to failing to maintain a register or other documents with respect to workers employed by them. Penalty can take either of the following forms:
- imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month,
- imposing fine which may extend to Rupees 10,000,
- or both
In relation to non-compliance* of the rules under the act by the employer either or both of the following penalties are applicable:
- a fine between Rupees 10,000 – Rupees 20,000
- imprisonment for a term between three months and one year for the first offence, which may extend to two years for the second and subsequent offences
*Non-compliance by the employer could be by any of the following means:
- Making any recruitment in contravention of the provisions of this Act, or;
- Making any payment or remuneration at unequal rates to men and women worker, for the same work or work of a similar nature;
- Making any discrimination between men and women workers in contravention of the provisions of this Act.
Section 11 states that in case of offences and non-compliance not only the company itself but the every person who, at the time the offence was in charge of, and was responsible for conducting the business of the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
Section 13 & 14 gives power to the Central Government to make rules for carrying out the provisions of this Act and give directions to a State Government for the same.
According to Section 15, the Act does not apply in certain cases:
- When terms and conditions of a women’s employment in complying with the requirements of any law giving special treatment to women or;
- Special treatment accorded to women in connection with:
- Birth or expected birth of a child or;
- Terms and Conditions relating to retirement, marriage or death.