Legal Provisions for Women

Specific provisions legally for female employees

 The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

To solidify the Supreme Court’s guidelines has laid down in Vishaka V/s State of Rajasthan and to have a comprehensive legal framework for the protection of women at workplaces, The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 was brought into force from 9 December 2013.

The Act ensures that women are protected against sexual harassment at all the work places, be it in public or private. The Act has laid down detailed procedure for dealing with complains and enquiries, protection of victims and prescribes punishment for sexual harassment and also punishes false complaints of harassment. The Act defines sexual harassment as sexual coloured remarks, demand or request for sexual favours, showing pornography, unwelcome physical, verbal, non-verbal sexual conduct and uninvited physical contact and advances.

The Act has made provisions for the creation of Internal Complaints Committee’ (“ICC”) at each office or branch, of an organization employing at least 10 employees. The ICC shall comprise of senior level working women employed in company, two members from employees, one member from NGO or person familiar with issues relating to sexual harassment.

As per the Act, the Government must set up a ‘Local Complaints Committees’ (“LCC”) at the district level to investigate complaints regarding sexual harassment from establishments where the ICC has not been constituted.

Noncompliance with this Act may invite a fine of up to Rs 50,000/- upon the employer and also cancellation of license to carry out business activities.

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961

The Maternity benefit Act, 1961 exists for the benefit of working women who are pregnant, or have given birth or suffered a miscarriage. The Maternity Benefit Act applies to any establishment in which 10 or more persons are employed, or were employed, on any day of the preceding 12 months. It is to be noted that the portion describing applicability of the Act uses the word ‘persons’ and not ‘women’, meaning that it is not necessary that there must be a minimum of 10 women in an establishment for the Act to apply, only 10 persons, including at least one woman. The Act regulates the employment of women in such establishments for certain periods before and after child birth. They will be entitled to Maternity benefits as per the provisions of the Act.

Objective of Maternity Benefit Act, 1961  : The object of the act is to protect the dignity of motherhood and the dignity of a new person’s birth by providing for the full and healthy maintenance of the woman and her child at this important time when she is not working.

Cash Benefits of the act:

  • Leave with average pay for six weeks (1.5 months) before the delivery.
  • Leave with average pay for six weeks (1.5 months) after the delivery.
  • A medical bonus of Rs.25 if the employer does not provide free medical care to the woman
  • An additional leave with pay up to one month if the woman shows proof of illness due to the pregnancy, delivery, miscarriage, or premature birth.
  • In case of miscarriage, six weeks leave with average pay from the date of miscarriage.

Non – Cash Benefits of the act:

  • Light work for ten weeks (six weeks plus one month) before the date of her expected delivery, if she asks for it.
  • Two nursing breaks in the course of her daily work until the child is 15 months old.
  • No discharge or dismissal while she is on maternity leave.
  • No change to her disadvantage in any of the conditions of her employment while on maternity leave.
  • Pregnant women discharged or dismissed may still claim maternity benefit from the employer.

 Other benefits of Maternity Benefit Act

Leave for Miscarriage & Tubectomy Operation

  • Leave with wages at the rate of maternity benefit, for a period of six weeks immediately following the day of her miscarriage or her medical termination of pregnancy.
  • Entitled to leave with wages at the rate of maternity benefit for a period of two weeks immediately following the day of her tubectomy operation.
  • Leave for illness arising out of pregnancy

Eligibility:

  1. i) When ESI is not covered.
  2. ii) 80 days of working completion in 12 months before the expected date of delivery including the holidays.

Display of Form: FORM K

Annual Returns: FORM K, L & M has to be submitted in duplicate by 31st JAN

Procedure:

–           The employee has to give a notice in writing FORM 1

–           Nomination also required in FORM 1

–           Proof of delivery/ miscarriage/illness in FORM 2 from a registered medical practitioner or FORM 3 from Midwife or a Certificate from Police

Crèche Facility for Women Employees:

As per the provisions under Section 48 of the Factories Act, 1948 any factory employing 30 or more women workers are required to provide creche facilities for the use of children under the age of 6 years for the women employees

Provision for crèches exists under the following:

  • Section 48 of the Factories Act, 1948.
  • Section 44 of the Inter State Migrant Workmen (RECS) Act, 1979.
  • Section 12 of the Plantations Labour Act, 1951.
  • Section 14 of the Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966.
  • Section 35 of the Building and other Constructions (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996

Safety/Health Measures

  • Section 22(2) of the Factories Act, 1948 provides that no woman shall be allowed to clean, lubricate or adjust any part of a prime mover or of any transmission machinery while the prime mover or transmission machinery is in motion
  • Section 27 of the Factories Act, 1948 prohibits employment of women in any part of a factory for pressing cotton in which a cotton opener is at work.
  • No woman employee shall lift, carry, or move by hand or on head any material, article, tools, or appliance exceeding the maximum limit in weight of 30 kilograms
  • There shall be at least one women (worker) on the Canteen Managing Committee.

Prohibition of Night Work

  • Section 66(1)(b) of the Factories Act, 1948 states that no woman shall be required or allowed to work in any factory except between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Section 25 of the Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 stipulates that no woman shall be required or allowed to work in any industrial premise except between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Section 46(1)(b) of the Mines Act, 1952 prohibits employment of women in any mine above ground except between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Prohibition of Sub-terrain Work

Section 46(1)(b) of the Mines Act, 1952 prohibits employment of women in any part of a mine which is below ground.

Provisions for Separate Latrines and Urinals

Provision for separate latrines and urinals for female workers under cover and partitioned to secure privacy and shall have proper door and fastenings exist under the following:

  • Rule 53 of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970.
  • Section 19 of the Factories Act, 1948.
  • Rule 42 of the Inter State Migrant Workmen (RECS) Central Rules, 1980.
  • Section 20 of the Mines Act, 1952.
  • Section 9 of the Plantations Labour Act, 1951.

Provisions for Separate Washing Facilities

Provision for separate washing facilities for female workers exists under the following:

  • Section 57 of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970.
  • Section 42 of the Factories Act.
  • Section 43 of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (RECS) Act, 1979.

Provisions of Information Center under Factories Act, 1948

Every factory shall set up an information center for women workers, which shall provide them information regarding the protective measures under the act and the rules.

“Vocational Training for Women” under Directorate General of -Employment & Training

DGE&T is the nodal agency for providing vocational training in traditional and contemporary courses and certification to women to meet the trained skill workforce to the industry and service sector etc. in the country.  These courses help women to achieve their career goals and become independent.  The Women Vocational Training Programme is dedicated to planning and implementing long term policies related to women’s vocational training in the country.

The National/Regional Vocational Training Institutes for women provide (i) Crafts Training Scheme (CTS) & (ii) Crafts Instructors Training Scheme (CITS) under modular pattern training programmes and Short term training courses, who have passed 10th or 12th standard and meet the specified eligibility criteria for various courses such as dress making, hair and skin care, preservation of fruits and vegetables, stenography, secretarial practice, computer programming, fashion technology, catering and hospitality etc.

Grants-in-aid Scheme:

The Ministry of is running a Grant-in-aid Scheme for the welfare of women labour.  This Scheme, which has been continuing since Sixth Five Year Plan (1981-82), is administered through voluntary organizations by giving grant-in-aid to them for the following purposes:

  • Organizing working women and educating them about their rights/duties, Legal aid to working women
  • Seminars, workshops, etc. aiming at raising the general consciousness of the society about the problems of women labour

Under this Scheme, Voluntary Organizations/NGOs are being provided funds by way of grants-in-aid to take up action-oriented projects for the benefit of women labour.  Projects relating to awareness generation campaigns for women labour are funded under this Scheme. The focus of the Scheme is awareness generation among women labour, in the area of wages, like minimum wages, equal remuneration, etc. to disseminate information on various schemes of Central/State Government Agencies available for the benefit of women labour.

Equal Remuneration for Women

As per the equal remuneration act , payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers are suppose to be provided and for the prevention of discrimination, on the ground of sex, against women in the matter of employment and for matters, connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Prohibition of Night Work for Women Employees

  • Section 66(1)(b) of the Factories Act, 1948 states that no woman shall be required or allowed to work in any factory except between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.

(After much debate, the ban has been lifted in majority of industries. For instance, the Factories Act, 1948, which initially banned women from working in night shifts, now liberalized women to work at their desired timing. It was argued that provisions for safety of women should be implemented such as provision of transportation till the doorstep of their residence rather than their ban at work during those hours.) Today, in four districts, there are about 40,000 women employees doing three shifts, including night shifts.

  • Section 25 of the Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 stipulates that no woman shall be required or allowed to work in any industrial premise except between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • Section 46(1)(b) of the Mines Act, 1952 prohibits employment of women in any mine above ground except between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
  • According to shops and establishment act no women shall be required or allowed to work in any establishment after 9:30 PM

In ITes and IT industry provision of women employees working after 8PM is allowed provided transportation till door step and other security measures for women employees are adhered.

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