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  • Anupama Soumya

THE CODE ON WAGES- AN EXAMPLE OF GENDERED DEVALUATION OF WORK?

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

By- Shouraseni Chakraborty, 4th Year Student at National University Of Study And Research In Law, Ranchi

 
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The issue of equality of women in the workplace has been in the hot waters ever since the introduction of the feminist movement in the 20th century. The Government plays a huge role in the shaping of the labour market, be it by the enforcement of the labour laws or protecting the workforce in times of retrenchment, disasters, or pandemics. But the policymakers should now consider another pertinent issue that affects the performance of women at the workplace - issuing gender-neutral laws concerning employment factors.


The perception of women in the workplace has seen a sharp change. In the early twentieth century, women were perceived as the weaker sex, fragile both emotionally and socially than the men, which led to the gender-defined roles at the workplace. Even during the two world wars, the men were seen fighting the wars, and the women tended to the wounded as nurses. During the 1950s, with the emphasis of the ILO’s Convention No. 100 and 111, principles of equal pay for equal work and non-discrimination on several grounds including sex, concerning access to vocational training, access to employment, and terms and conditions of employment came into being respectively.


But the devaluation of women’s work is still prevalent in society. The saddest part of this observation is assisted by the evidentiary research that both men and women hold subconscious biases affecting their decisions and value the work by men more than that of women. The difference is much more conversant in the employment sector, be it concerning the salaries, or the quality of work. The Matilda Effect, which spearheaded the conversation involving devaluation of women scientists’ work, as compared to their male counterparts, is very well seen in the workforce as a whole, especially in the Indian legal scenario.

THE (UN)EQUAL PAY FOR WORK OF EQUAL VALUE

India has taken various steps to implement these principles into the legislative framework. Women in India face an age-old socio-economic threat to their dignity and safety by virtue of the patriarchal set-up of the society. Hence, the Government has come up with legislative remedies to enhance and uplift the position of women in the workplace and ensure equal rights to women in employment contracts. One such enactment is the Equal Remuneration Act 1976 (‘ERA’) which concerns itself with the insurance of the equality in payment of men and women at the workplace. Recently, with the overhaul of the labour laws of the country, this legislation was repealed by the Code on Wages 2019 (‘Code’). Although this could have been an opportunity for the fulfillment of gaps concerning the pay gap in India, it indeed fails to do so.