The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976

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The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 (Act no. 25 of 1976) consists of three chapters. The Act was enacted with the object to provide for equal remuneration to Men and Women workers for prevention of sex discrimination against women in matters of employment. The Act was intended to enact by Parliament on twenty seventh year of Republic of India. Article 39 of the Indian Constitution requires State to direct its policy for securing equal pay for equal work for men and women. President of India promulgated an Ordinance in this regard on 26th September, 1975. The Act extends to whole of India.

Section 2 provides for definitions of several terms including appropriate government, employer, worker, etc. And Section 3 of the Act provides for effect of the Act over other laws for the time being in force. In short, if the any other laws or regulations seem inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, the provisions of this Act should only survive.

Chapter II of the Act is very much important so far as it relates to Equal remuneration to men and women worker and relevant matters. Section 4 of the Act specks for duty of Employer not to pay any remuneration to any worker less than those which are paid to the worker of opposite sex for similar nature of work performed by him. Section 5 of the Act prohibits discrimination in recruiting men and women worker for the similar nature of work. However, such discrimination could only be made when there is prohibition or restriction under any law as to employment of women on any work.

Section 6 of the Act makes provisions as to development of women by providing them increasing employment opportunities. Section specks for constitution of Advisory Committees to advise Government regarding extend of number of women workers in establishments.  Section 7 of the Act empowers Government as to appointment of Authorities for dealing with claims and complaints. Further sub sections dealt with powers, procedures, etc. of such Authorities in dealing with such complaint or claims.

Now, Chapter III of the Act dealt with miscellaneous provisions. Likewise Section 8 of the Act dealt with duty of Employers to maintain registers or other documents relating to workers employed under them. Section 9 of the Act empowers Government as to appointment of Inspectors for investigating compliance of provisions of this Act and Rules if any by employers.

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Section 10 of the Act makes penal provisions, where any employer is in default in doing something required under the Act, should be liable under the Act for penal actions against him. Such actions include imprisonment and fine. Further, Section 11 of the Act describes offences by companies and persons liable thereto.

The Act was amended by Act of 1987 and Section 12 was substituted as to Cognizance and trail of offences committed under this Act. Section specifies that, such cognizance or actions could be taken by the Courts, only when any complaint is made by appropriate government or person aggrieved by offence. Further, Section 13 of the Act empowers Central Government to make Rules relevant to the purposes of this Act and more particularly the Section provides for a list of matters where Central Government required to make Rules. Moreover, Central Government is also empowered under Section 14 of the Act to direct State Government on relevant matters for the purpose of this Act.

Section 16 of the Act empowers Government to make declaration as to any differences being carried on in payment of remunerations to the men and women in any establishment based on factor other than sex or gender. Moreover, in such cases Employer should not be held responsible under this Act.

The Central Government implemented this Act relating to employment being carried on under its sphere or authority like, employment in Postal Department of India, Railway, etc. The Central Government implemented this Act at State sphere where employments are carried on by State Governments like Travelling, Electricity departments, etc. where enforcement of this Act is done by officials of the State Labour Departments.

The Equal Remuneration Rules, 1976 were framed by Central Government on 11th March, 1976 under the provisions of this Act. The Rules further provides for complaints and claims under the Act and also provides for different forms as specimen of such complaints or claims. The question of validity of these Rules was decided in Minerva Talkies Vs. State of Karnataka (1988).

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan