The phrase Equal pay for Equal Work means that every individual who has been
employed for the work which is allotted to him should be given sufficient pay as
that of the others. There should not be any discrimination while payment of
wage. It is most commonly used in the context of sexual discrimination, in
relation to the gender pay gap.
The temporary workers who are working the shifts
instead of the permanent workers should get the same remuneration as that of the
permanent workers is a rule and a right for the individual for getting the
same. Mere difference in nomenclature would not dis-entitle an employee from
being paid the same wages as permanent employees. Any act of paying less wages
as compared to others similarly situated, constitutes an act of exploitative
The equal pay is governed under the Equality Act of 2010
which gives a right to equal pay between women and men for equal work. This
covers individuals in the same employment, and includes equality in pay and all
other contractual terms.
The provision in the Act states that the right of women and men to receive equal
pay for equal work applies to:
- all employees (including apprentices and those working from home),
whether on full-time, part-time, casual or temporary contracts, regardless
of length of service,
- other workers (example: self-employed) whose contracts require personal
performance of the work.
The Supreme Court has given a judgement based on it in the case of State of
Punjab and Ors. v. Jagjit Singh and ors
wherein it was held that an employee
engaged for the same work cannot be paid less than another who performs the same
duties and responsibilities and certainly not in a welfare state.
Such an action
besides being demeaning, strikes at the very foundation of human dignity. Anyone
who is compelled to work at a lesser wage does not do so voluntarily he or she
does so to provide food and shelter to his or her family, at the cost of
his or her self-respect and dignity, at the cost of his or her self-worth, and
at the cost of his or her integrity.
Any act of paying less wages as compared to
others similarly situated, constitutes an act of exploitative enslavement,
emerging out of a domineering position. Undoubtedly, the action is oppressive,
suppressive and coercive, as it compels involuntary subjugation.
The SC further
observed that India being a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights, 1966, there is no escape from the obligations thereunder in view of the different provisions of the Constitution. Thus, the
principle of “equal pay for equal work” constitutes a clear and unambiguous
right and is vested in every employee, whether engaged on a permanent or
Equal pay for equal work is not a constitutional right or a fundamental right.
It can be described through the interpretations of Article 14,15 ad 16 which
guarantees fundamental rights of equality before law,protection against any kind
of discrimination and equal opportunities in the matters of public
employment. The UDHR( Universal Declaration of Human Rights) states that without
any discrimination made has the right to pay for equal work.
The preamble of the
Constitution of International Labor Organization proclaims the principle of
equal remuneration for equal work. Article 4(3) of the European Social Charter
which provides the right to fair remuneration and includes the recognition of
right to men and women workers to equal pay. This has been considered as a good practise by various organizations including the United Nations. The Indian
Constitutions has also made several other Acts for protecting the individuals
from irrational way of payment for the work that they have done.
The Equal remuneration Act 1976 has been significant government step towards
“equal pay for equal work
”. This Act was mainly passed with the point of giving
equivalent compensation to men and women laborers and to forestall segregation
based on sexual orientation in all issues identifying with business and work
openings or opportunities. This enactment not just gives women a privilege to
request equivalent compensations, yet any imbalance concerning enlistment
forms, work preparing, advancement and moves inside the association can likewise
be challenged in the Court of Law.
Organizations and individual employers can
both be considered responsible to keep the guidelines endorsed under this Act.Despite thee fact that in the greater part of the government employments
there are equivalent wages for equivalent work, this is not valid for private
segment occupations. There is still a separation in the private division
particularly in low paid occupations and in sloppy segments or the unorganized
sectors which is not sorted out as indicated by government standards.
The Minimum Wages Act provides a statutory fixation for minimum wages working in
specified employments since workers are poorly organized and have a less
bargaining power. The minimum wage is reviewed and revised after fixed interval
of five years.
With the same ideology the Workmen's Compensation Act was also
enacted with the aim of providing proper financial protection to the workmen and
his or her dependents in case of accidental injury arising out of and in course
of employment by means of payment of compensation by certain class of
employers. Because of the differences in bargaining power there are chances that
the women may be subject to exploitation. This act helps to avoid that risk and
also it has been amend from time to time to meet the requirements of the dynamic
The Equal Remuneration Act 1976 (ERA), a legislation in India dealing with equal
pay for equal work for men and women, was repealed in August 2019, and replaced
by the Code on Wages 2019(Code). This could have been used as an opportunity to
fill crucial gaps in the legal regime dealing with pay equality in India.
Unfortunately, the opportunity has been squandered.
The guidelines for equal pay for equal work was considered in the case of Kishori Mohanlal Bakshi
Vs Union Of India
where the Supreme Court announced it unequipped for being
implemented in the court of law. Nevertheless, it got due acknowledgement in 1987
through the Mackinnon Mackenzie's case where the issue in hand was a case of
equivalent compensation for both male and female stenographers.
decided in favour of women stenographers as the court was supportive of the
principle of equal pay for equal work. There were misinterpretations for the
said principles as it was held in the case S. Narkara Vs Union of India
court was of the opinion that Article 38(d) of the Indian Constitution that the
state will endeavour to limit the imbalances in pay and attempt to take out
disparities in status, offices and openings among people as well as among
gatherings of individuals living in various territories with various livelihood.
In Markendeya vs. State of Andhra Pradesh
, difference in pay scale, between
graduate supervisors holding degree in Engineering and non-graduate supervisors
being diploma and licence holders was upheld. It was held that on the basis of
difference in educational qualifications such difference in pay scales was
justified and would not offend Article 14 and 16. The Court pointed out that
where two classes of employees perform identical or similar duties and carry out
the same functions with the same measure of responsibility having the same
academic qualifications, they would be entitled to equal pay.
equal pay for equal work is applicable among equals. It can't be applied to
. Thus, daily rated workers can't be equated with regular employees of
the State in the matter of wages. There are differences of qualifications, age,
and manner of selection between the two categories of employees.
The International Labour Organization has, from the outset accepted and, on
several occasion, reaffirmed the principle of equal remuneration for men and
women doing work of equal value. The question has been in the limelight
particularly during and since the war, although the issue is by no means a new
During the Second World War, women replaced in a great many occupation or
were employed in new occupation, and large numbers of women were drawn into the
employment market to meet urgent demands for labour, particularly in war
industries. At that time, the problem of equal remuneration was primarily
considered as that of protecting men's wages and of preventing their being
leveled down by the employment of women at lower rate. In most countries, female
labour forms a substantial proportion of the total labour force, whether the
economy of the country is predominantly agricultural or industrial in character.
Moreover, efforts are being made in many countries, where industrialization or
economic planning is developing, to make better use of female labour either by
drawing new supplies of such labour into the employment market, or by
redistributing the existing supply, or by both methods.
In concluding this topic every individual no matter regarding their gender,
cast, religion should be given proper pay for the work that they have put in the
efforts for and the pay should be reasonable.Written By: Hari Bharadhwaj
- 2nd Year BCom LLB Sastra University Thanjavur