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Women Right Under Labour Laws

Jan 24, 2024 | Uncategorized

Women Right Under Labour Laws

In this blog, we will discuss some important labor regulations related to women employees and other essential labor regulations that startups must comply with. We will also explore crucial legal documentation about labor laws.

The Maternity Benefits Act, 1961:

This act governs the employment of women in specific establishments for defined periods before and after childbirth, providing maternity benefits and other related benefits. Amended in 2017 as the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, it applies to startups with ten or more employees in the last or preceding 12 months. To qualify, a woman must have worked as an employee in a startup for a minimum of 80 days in the past 12 months. The amendment increased paid maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks, with 8 weeks available before the expected delivery date. The remaining 18 weeks can be availed post-childbirth, with payment based on the average daily wage. The amendment also introduced a provision for “work from home” after the 26-week leave, subject to mutual agreement. Employers are obligated to educate women about maternity benefits at the time of appointment.

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

This act safeguards against sexual harassment at the workplace and addresses the prevention and redressal of related complaints. Startups with ten or more employees must establish an ‘Internal Complaints Committee.’ The act delineates behavior constituting sexual harassment, such as requesting sexual favors or showing pornography. It also specifies behavior that does not amount to harassment. Employers should display information about the penalties for sexual harassment and the internal committee in conspicuous places around the workplace.

Payment of Wages Act, 1936:

This act regulates wage payments to employees, aiming to prevent unauthorized deductions and delays. Wages can be paid in coins, currency notes, checks, or bank transfers. The maximum wage period is one month, and payments should occur on regular working days. Payment deadlines are within 7 days for startups with fewer than 1000 employees and within 10 days for those with more than 1000 employees. The wage threshold for the act is Rs. 24,000 per month.

Other Acts requiring Compliance if applicable:

Apart from the mentioned acts, startups may need to comply with additional labor laws, including but not limited to the Shops & Establishments Act, Factories Act, Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, Payment of Bonus Act, Minimum Wages Act, Weekly Holidays Act, Industrial Disputes Act, Trade Unions Act, and Employees Compensation and Workmen’s Compensation Rules.

Legal Documentation for Labor Law Compliance:

Startups need to prepare various legal documents, such as employment agreements, executive employment agreements, consultancy agreements, and policies like code of conduct, ethics policy, whistle-blower policy, etc. Transactional notices and letters, like notices of inquiry and offer letters, are also important. Consulting a startup lawyer is advised for proper drafting and compliance.

Frequently Asked Questions: Women’s Rights Under Labor Laws

1. What labor laws protect women in the workplace?

  • Various laws protect women in the workplace, including the Maternity Benefits Act, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, and the Payment of Wages Act. Additionally, the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act and the Minimum Wages Act address general labor rights.

2. What is the Maternity Benefits Act, and how does it protect women employees?

  • The Maternity Benefits Act, 1961, regulates the employment of women before and after childbirth, providing maternity benefits. The amended act in 2017 increased paid maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks and introduced provisions for “work from home” after maternity leave. It applies to startups with ten or more employees.

3. How does the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act safeguard women employees?

  • This act protects women from sexual harassment at the workplace, outlining behaviors that constitute harassment. It mandates the establishment of an ‘Internal Complaints Committee’ in startups with ten or more employees. The act also specifies behaviors that do not amount to harassment.

4. What does the Payment of Wages Act cover in terms of women’s rights?

  • The Payment of Wages Act, 1936, regulates wage payments, aiming to prevent unauthorized deductions and delays. It ensures timely payment to women employees and sets the maximum wage period. The act is applicable to startups with specific employee thresholds.

5. Are there other labor laws that address women’s rights in the workplace?

  • Yes, several other laws protect women’s rights, such as the Shops & Establishments Act, Factories Act, Industrial Disputes Act, and the Employees Compensation and Workmen’s Compensation Rules. These laws cover aspects like working conditions, disputes, and compensation.

6. How can employers comply with these laws to ensure women’s rights are protected?

  • Employers should familiarize themselves with relevant labor laws, establish Internal Complaints Committees, display information on sexual harassment penalties, and adhere to maternity leave regulations. Ensuring fair wages, safe working conditions, and compliance with additional labor laws contribute to protecting women’s rights.

7. Do startups need legal documentation for labor law compliance related to women’s rights?

  • Yes, startups should prepare legal documents, including employment agreements, policies (e.g., anti-sexual harassment policy), and transactional notices. Consulting with a startup lawyer can help in drafting documents that ensure compliance with labor laws related to women’s rights.

8. How can startups create a work-friendly environment for women employees?

  • Startups can create a work-friendly environment by implementing progressive policies, such as extended maternity leave, flexible work arrangements, and addressing issues related to sexual harassment promptly. Encouraging diversity and inclusion practices also contribute to a positive workplace for women.

9. What role does a startup lawyer play in ensuring labor law compliance related to women’s rights?

  • A startup lawyer can provide guidance on labor law compliance, assist in drafting legal documents, and ensure that startups adhere to the regulations protecting women’s rights. They play a crucial role in navigating legal complexities and creating a legally sound work environment.

10. How can women employees assert their rights under labor laws?

  • Women employees can assert their rights by being aware of relevant labor laws, reporting any instances of harassment promptly, and seeking support from internal committees. Seeking legal advice in case of disputes or non-compliance can also be a proactive approach to protect their rights.

Startups should prioritize labor law compliance, recognizing its benefits for both the company and employees. Adherence to these laws fosters a conducive work environment and ultimately contributes to the overall development and performance of employees. Seeking inspiration from progressive practices, startups can create employee-friendly policies. Entrepreneurs planning to launch startups should consult a startup lawyer for comprehensive guidance on labor law compliance, document drafting, and other legal aspects, ensuring a smooth and legally sound startup journey.


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