Over the years, there have been quite a few advancements in the Indian economy, notable among which is the surge in the female labor participation rate. Women especially who are married are joining the labor force of the country in large numbers and are doing considerably well in various sectors. However, over the years, the Indian judicial and penal system has undergone many changes and many such changes have been devised keeping working women in consideration. Thus, it is of great importance for the working women to be aware of their legal rights. Also, in general, standing in 21st century we cannot say that women are fully safe in India. So, in order to combat any unprecedented situation, a working woman must know the legal structure conducive to her.
Some of the legal paradigms designed for working women are discussed in details:
- Equal Remuneration Act, 1976: The Equal Remuneration Act has been designed to provide negation of any sort of discrimination particularly on the gender front in giving out salaries and remunerations. This Act is guaranteed at both State level and also Centre level by the respective administrative authorities and labor departments. Thus, if any working woman is paid less than her male counter-part in a particular company or firm, she can sue the firm under this Act.
- The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013: Sexual harassment has proved to be a very common incident in the work places of India. Newspapers are often flooded with disturbing news of working women falling victims of sexual harassments, molestations and in the worst case, rape by male colleagues. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013 has been devised in order to provide security and protection of working women against any incident of sexual harassment and also provides guidelines rendering it mandatory for the owner or the employer to take up liability for redressal and mitigation of any such incident and work towards gender empowerment and equality at work place with a safe environment.
- The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961: One of the most stringent and powerful laws designed for working women, The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 ensures that a uniform set of maternity benefits be given to working women across India. The Act ensures that a benefit of 26 weeks of earned maternity leave will be given to eligible working women for the first two children that they conceive. From the third child onwards, the entitlement will be of 12 weeks only. Also, during this period no employer can fire any working woman taking the benefit. A medical bonus of Rs 2500-3500 is also given in case of any illness or disease during pregnancy of a working woman. Also, in case of death of a woman while child birth, the benefit will be given to the legal nominees of the deceased or to the legal heirs.
Thus it is very crucial for a working woman to know about her legal rights in order to enjoy the benefits of a more balanced working experience.