Must Know Legal Rights for Every Working Woman

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A group of women demonstrators holding banners at a protest on women's rights.
A group of women demonstrators holding banners at a protest on women's rights.

Women have been welcomed into the corporate sector with open arms, and their presence is valued. Without a question, the vista for women has broadened, and businesses are taking a variety of steps to empower women in the workplace. However, we frequently encounter situations in which we are unsure how to respond.

Women have faced distinct, prejudiced challenges in every generation. As more educated young women enter white-collar positions in modern times, their chances of encountering predatory behavior from men—at various occupational levels—have increased.

However, the options for preventing and punishing harassers are now more powerful than ever. As a result, if you are a woman, it is critical that you understand your employment rights and that you utilize them if necessary. Below mentioned acts and legal rights are the basic acts you should know and exercise if any of your rights as a woman and as an individual is hampered at any point of time:

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redress) Act of 2013 (“SHA”) :

Sexual harassment at work is not commonplace, and we have seen a variety of incidents involving workplace harassment. In 2013, India finally passed legislation prohibiting the sexual harassment of female employees in the workplace. The Act was passed nearly 16 years after the Supreme Court of India’s landmark decision in Vishaka and Others v. the State of Rajasthan (“Vishaka Judgment“). The Vishaka Judgment established standards that require every employer to offer a system for resolving workplace sexual harassment complaints and to uphold working women’s right to gender equality (“Guidelines”).

Organizations were required to follow the Guidelines until the Sexual Harassment Act was enacted, but in most cases, they did not. The passage of the sexual harassment act has provided much-needed respite to female employees. The Sexual Harassment Act encompasses any unwelcome sexually determined behavior (whether directly or by implication) such as physical contact and advances, which is in line with the Supreme Court’s definition in the Vishaka Judgment.

  • request or demand for sexual favors
  • statements with a sexual connotation,
  • displaying pornography
  • or any other sexually inappropriate physical, verbal, or nonverbal action.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act provides assistance to women who are subjected to workplace sexual harassment. This Act provides instructions for taking action in the event of sexual misconduct. It also includes provisions for holding courses and raising awareness about sexual harassment. 

The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act of 2017 

It is a piece of legislation that amends the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961. Prior to this, the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 was passed. This new Amendment to the Act was only recently enacted last year. The modification not only extended the leave’s duration but also spurred the introduction of a slew of new measures.

Despite its existence, the former Maternity Act was unable to provide adequate leave for new mothers. Many women had to fight to get to the most recent relevant point of interest, and many had to quit their employment. One of the many challenges that women face when they start working too soon is execution. As a result, it was past time for women to receive the benefits they deserved.

The following are some of the advantages:

  • A compensated maternity leave of 26 weeks
  • One month of paid leave in the event of a pregnancy-related illness or miscarriage.
  • Medical bonus ranging from Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,500 if the employer provides the pre-natal and post-natal treatment.
  • Maternity benefit, payable 48 hours in advance if the employee presents proof of delivery.
  • If the employee dies without a legal heir, the maternity benefit is paid to a selected beneficiary.
  • Furthermore, no establishment can recruit you for six weeks following your delivery, miscarriage, or medical termination of pregnancy under this Act. During your maternity leave, no one may terminate you.

The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976

We frequently hear about and see examples of wage inequality, in which women workers are paid less than their male counterparts. This is a global story, even in developed countries. Article 39 of our Constitution mandates that states develop policies aimed at ensuring equal pay for equal labor for men and women. The Equal Remuneration Act stipulates that:

  • Employers must pay male and female employees who perform the same or similar work the same or similar wages.
  • Employers cannot discriminate between men and women when hiring unless the law prohibits women from working in certain industries. 

The Factories Act of 1948

The Factories Act of 1948 (the “Factories Act”) is a federal law that regulates the manufacturing industry. The Factories Act is a piece of legislation that ensures the health, safety, and welfare of industrial workers, as well as adequate working hours, leave, and other benefits. The Factories Act is designed to safeguard factory workers from unfair exploitation by their employers. Women workers have special provisions in the Factories Act.

State governments make notices from time to time revising portions of the Factories Act that apply to factory workers in their respective states. For example, on December 1st, President Pranab Mukherjee signed the Maharashtra Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which, among other things, allows women to work night shifts in factories. The law had been in effect prior to the amendment.

The Factories Act prohibited women from working in factories during the night shift, which ran from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. With this modification, factory management is also required to ensure the safety of women working night shifts. 

The Shops and Establishments Act

The Shops and Establishments Act, enacted by each state government, governs the working conditions of employees in a shop or commercial institution. The SEAs include requirements relating to 

  • termination notice periods,
  • leave entitlement, and 
  • working conditions such as weekly working hours, weekly off, overtime, and so on.

The Maharashtra Shops and Establishment Act, 1948 (“MSEA”) is the law that applies to establishments in Maharashtra, while the Delhi Shops and Establishment Act, 1954 is the law that applies to establishments in Delhi. 

Certain industries, however, may require their female employees to work over the permitted limitations due to the nature of their profession, for which they must obtain prior authorization from the authorities. Allowing women to work late nights in India is always accompanied by special conditions and obligations on the part of the employer, such as providing a safe working environment, providing adequate security during the night hours, and providing transportation to their residence after the late working hours.

Women employees should be positioned in groups rather than working alone at night, for example. In recent years, the IT sector has experienced exponential expansion, and this is a sector that normally employs a large number of people. 

Due to catering to countries throughout the world with varying time variations, we see an equal amount of men and women working in the IT field, and they work late into the night for their shift work. Apart from the rules of the SEA, state governments have their own IT/ITES policies that address the challenges of women working night shifts and the different precautions that employers must take to protect their safety.

In the past, women’s rights in India were disregarded. India, on the other hand, has strong legislation for women as a result of increased awareness. Financial independence and freedom are extremely significant for women. When women work, they have their own identity that isn’t based on other people. They are both capable of contributing equally to the home. Various legislation has been enacted by the government to encourage more women to work. These laws also ensure that they work in a safe atmosphere. 

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