Author: – Janavi Chhabra
In industrialized as well as in developing nations, gender wage disparity is a pervasive socioeconomic evil. A key predictor of a modern society’s patriarchal nature is gender pay disparity. In many developed as well as in almost all developing countries such as India, several studies have factually shown that there is an earning gap between male and female workers. However, the practice of dominance of one gender over the other is not entirely due to earning disparity in various economies. In addition to being a major problem, gender wage disparity often severely impairs the effective and efficient use of the main development factor, viz. a human asset.
In many ways, sexual equality is still a distant dream, despite the continued efforts of advocates and legislators. In several areas, including the workplace, research reveals gender inequality, mainly against women and in favor of men. The results of researches so made and different data collected over the years indicate that even after changes in labor laws changes to ensure workplace gender neutrality, targeted government policies to encourage women’s employment and women’s skills growth are immediately needed to reduce the gender wage gap in India.
Gender Wage Gap
The gender wage gap can be defined as the difference between the earnings of men and women who are employed to work. This as a parameter of measurement considers only those men and women who are employed and are paid. (a) workplace segregation and (b) direct discrimination are components of the gender pay gap. Owing to the confinement of female employees inside those particular types of jobs, workplace segregation between female and male workers exists and can be made evident. Direct discrimination happens when persons with the same level of education and work experience are handled differently because of their gender: different levels of pay for the same job. Other contributing factors for the gender gap include a cultural barrier, undervaluation of women’s competence and skills, lack of education, and training. In essence, the gender wage gap is the overall disparity between the wages earned by working men and women. Two separate figures exist the unadjusted pay gap and the adjusted pay gap.
The former clearly distinguishes between the two sexes’ average and median incomes, the latter takes into account disparities in variables such as employment, education, and work experience. So if we consider the unadjusted number, the difference is sharper. The reasons for the gender pay gap are a little more complex in a country like India and can be related to reasons ranging from socio-economic to institutional. Often, girls are kept out of school or forced to drop out of school early. Even if they are trained, their families do not encourage many females to work. Women are routinely paid way less than men in the unorganized sector, and particularly in sectors such as agriculture, claiming differences in skill. The gender pay gap does not show any indication of closing until India’s social stigma against women in the workforce and the general climate of social inequality against women is not addressed. The following are some data supporting the existence of the gender wage gap in the country.
- According to a survey by Monster Salary Index (2019), Women in India earn around 19 % less as compared to men (1). The survey shows that the median gross hourly salary for men in India in the year 2018 was rupees 242.49 while for women it was rupees 196.3 indicating that men earned rupees 46.19 more than women. Furthermore, the survey also depicts the gender pay gap between different industries in the economy. The highest gap was witnessed in the IT sector which was equal to 26% and next was the manufacturing sector at 24%.
- The difference in 2018 was only decreased by 1 percent from 20 percent a year earlier.
- The data indicates that the gender pay gap is widening with a higher level of expertise – while there is no gender pay gap in semi-skilled employment, the gap affects 20% for skilled women and 30% for highly skilled workers. The difference increases with experience and is highest at 15 percent for men with 10 or more years of experience in favor of talent, the MSI index showed.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
Equal pay for equal work is a principle of the workforce today that provides a man and a woman doing the same job with the same amount of obligations and duties with equal salaries and facilities. The Indian Constitution does not specifically recognize this right as fundamental or constitutional, but different clauses in India’s Constitution point to equitable pay for equal work being enforced. Some of the constitutional provisions include articles 14, 15, 16, 39, 42, 51 (2).
The concept of equal wages for equal work was adopted for the first in the case of Kishori Mohanlal Bakshi v. Union of India in the year 1962 where the principle was rejected by the supreme court (3).
Finally a few years later in 1982 in the case of Randhir Singh vs. Union of India, The court upheld the principle of equal pay for equal work even after not giving it a position of fundamental right but raised it to a constitutional provision under article 14, 16, 39(c) making it capable of being enforced in case of its violation through constitutional remedies granted under article 32 and 226 respectively for different levels of courts (4). Moreover in another case of Punjab and Ors vs. Jagir Singh and Ors. an explanation of the meaning of this principle was given (5). The bench, in this case, held that it is necessary to make the principle of equal pay for equal work applicable to those engaged as daily wagers, casual and contractual employees who perform the same duties as regulars and referred to as “exploitative enslavement” and “oppressive suppression” and are denied equal pay.
Apart from these constitutionally enforced provisions, there is certain legislation passed to further implement this principle some of them include the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923; Minimum Wages Act, 1948; Equal Remuneration Act of 1976, etc.
With the concept of equal pay for equal work there comes the concept of minimum wages. Just paying equal irrespective of caste, gender, religion, and any other grounds is not sufficient in itself and there is a minimum amount of money that must be paid by the employer to their employee for the work done for them during the specific course of employment and this defined wage cannot be reduced even by an agreement made between both the parties. In India, as set by the government this wage stands at 176 rupees which is approximately 3$ for eight hours of work. In addition to this relaxation can be given by local authorities and this number might vary
from day to day about in all it must not fall below the set limits by respective local authorities.
Despite numerous initiatives by legislators, executives, and courts, there is still an issue in India of unequal pay for equal work. Each person should be given adequate pay for the job they have put in the efforts for, regardless of their gender, caste, religion, and the pay should be fair. Different laws have been enacted by the legislature to tackle these issues, and rulings by many courts across India have also contributed to the acceptance of fair play as a fundamental right to equal work. Together, all these have contributed to a major change in the scenario. As workers are now standing up and calling out for their rights, there have been signs and accounts of a reduction in gender inequality in the workforce. This puts the government under immense pressure to strengthen the rules and order in the workplace.
Steps must be continuously taken to make the workforce aware of their fair pay rights as well. Steps should be taken to create organizations that would go to rural areas and bring women to fair pay in these areas, just as the male worker does the same job as her. The redress available under the various acts and the agencies they should approach if they encounter discrimination.
- Rica Bhattacharya, Gender pay gap high in India: Men get paid Rs 242 every hour, women earn Rs 46 less, The Economic Times.
(Mar 07, 2019, 10:55 PM)
- India Consti. art. 14, 15, 16, 39, 42, 51.
- Kishori Mohanlal Bakshi v. Union of India 1962 AIR (SC) 1139.
- Randhir Singh vs. Union of India 1982 AIR 879, 1982 SCR (3) 298.
- Punjab and Ors vs. Jagir Singh and Ors.1973 AIR 2407, 1974 SCR (1) 328.
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