Equal Remuneration Act, 1976

Equal Remuneration Act, 1976

Equal Remuneration Act, 1976


Sex discrimination on payment of wages has been one of the most prevalent unfair labour practices in most of the countries in the world. Such a widespread unfair labour practice could not escape the notice of the International Labour Organizations set up for removing such discrimination by formulating international labour standards for its member countries. In fact, ILO adopted equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value, without discrimination based on sex as its fundamental principle included in its Constitution. The General Assembly of United Nations has also given its support to this principle. It also became the subject of a Convention No. 100 and a Recommendation No. 90 adopted by the International Labour Conference in 1951.

The Constitutions of many countries specifically proclaim the principle or else prohibit sex determination. The principle is also approved by m any non-government organizations, including trade unions and international federations and confederations of trade unions.

Object of the Act

The Equal Remuneration Act provides for payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers and for the prevention of discrimination, on the ground sex, against women in the matter of employment and for matters connected therewith of incidental thereto. Article 39 of the Constitution envisages that the State shall direct its policy, among other things, towards securing that there is equal pay for equal work for both men and women. To give effect to this constitutional provision the President promulgated on 26th September, 1075, the Equal Remuneration Ordinance, 1975 so that the provision of the Article 39 of the Constitution may be implemented in the year which was being celebrated as the International Women’s Year. The Act was passed on 11th January, 1976.

Scheme of the Act

The Act consists of  three chapters with 18 sections.

Chapter I : Preliminary ( Sections 1- 3)

Chapter II : Payment of Remuneration of Equal Rates to men and women workers and other matters ( Sections 4-7)

Chapter III : Miscellaneous ( Sections 8-18)

1. Short title, extent and commencement.-

(1) This Act may be called the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

(2) It extends to the whole of India.

(3) It shall come into force on such date, not being later than three years from the passing of this Act, as the Central Government may, by notification, appoint and different dates may be appointed for different establishments or employments.

2. Definitions

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires-

(a) “appropriate government” means-

(i) in relation to any employment carried on by or under the authority of the central Government or a railway administration, or in relation to a banking company, a mine, oil-field or major port or any corporation established by or under a Central Act, the Central Government, and

(ii) in relation to any other employment, the State Government;

(b) “commencement of this Act” means, in relation to an establishment or employment, the date on which this Act comes into force in respect of that establishment or employment;

(c) “employer” has the meaning assigned to it in clause (f) of section 2 of the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 (39 of 1972);

(d) “man” and “woman” means male and female human beings, respectively, of any age;

(e) “notification” means a notification published in the Official Gazette;

(f) “prescribed” means prescribed by rules made under this Act;

(g) “remuneration” means the basic wage or salary, and any additional emoluments whatsoever payable, either in cash or in kind, to a person employed in respect of employment or work done in such employment, if the terms of the contract of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled;

(h) “same work or work of a similar nature” means work in respect of which the skill, effort and responsibility required are the same, when performed under similar working conditions, by a man or a woman and the differences, if any, between the skill, effort and responsibility required of a man and those required to a woman are not of practical importance in relation to the terms and conditions of employment;

(i) “worker” means a worker in any establishment or employment in respect of which this Act has come into force;

(j) words and expressions used in this Act and not defined but defined in the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (14 of 1947), shall have the meanings respectively assigned to them in that Act.

3. Act to have overriding effect

The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other law or in the terms of any award, agreement or contract of service, whether made before or after the commencement of this Act, or in any instrument having effect under any law for the time being in force.

4. Duty of employer to pay equal remuneration to men and women workers for same work or work of a similar nature.

(1) 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 favorable 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.

(2) No employer shall, for the purpose of complying with the provisions of sub-section (1), reduce the rate of remuneration of any worker.

(3) Where, in an establishment on 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.

PROVIDED that nothing in this sub-section shall be deemed to entitle a worker to the revision 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.

Comment: It is lastly urged on behalf of the petitioner that the enforcement of the Act will be highly prejudicial to the management, since its financial position is not satisfactory and the management is not able to pay equal remuneration to both male Stenographers and female Stenographers. The Act does not permit the management to pay to a section of its employees doing the same work or a work of similar nature lesser pay contrary to section 4(1) of the Act only because it is not able to pay equal remuneration to all. The applicability of the Act does not depend upon the financial ability of the management to pay equal remuneration as provided by it. AIR 1987 SUPREME COURT 1281, Mackinnon Mackenzie and Co. Ltd.  Audrey D’Costa

5. No discrimination to be made while recruiting men and women workers

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:

PROVIDED that the provisions of this section shall not affect any priority or reservation for scheduled castes or scheduled tribes, ex-servicemen, retrenched employees or any other class or category of persons in the matter of recruitment to the posts in an establishment or employment.

Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
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