Major Employment Laws in India
Niharika Behl 26 Sep 2017

Major Employment Laws in India

Employment Laws in India – at a glance 

Employment policies are generated in the country in order to maintain industrial harmony, economic and social welfare.  Employment law is basically a body of laws, administrative rules and precedents that protect the legal rights by imposing restrictions and laying down affirmative actions. It lays down a relationship between employees, employers and trade unions. Various statutes and rules contain provisions governing industrial relations, workplace health and safety and employment standards.

The laws that ensure that employees get just remuneration include-

• Constitution-
Labour finds its place in the Concurrent List of the Constitution which entitles both the center and the state to make laws for the same. Part III (Fundamental Rights) and Part IV of the Constitution (Directive Principles) contain provisions like equal remuneration, maternity benefit, etc. The main Articles include Art 14, 16, 19, 21, 23. 24, 35, 38, 39, 39 A, 41, 42, 43, 43A, 46, 47, 32, 226, 227. In RandhirSingh v. Union of India[AIR 1997 SC 3014.], the Supreme Court held that even though the principle of 'equal pay for equal work' is not expressly mentioned in our Constitution to be a fundamental right, but it is a constitutional goal under Articles 14, 16 and 39 (c) of the Constitution. This right can, therefore, be enforced in cases of unequal pay based on any discrimination. The decision in RandhirSingh's case has been reiterated in a number of cases by the Supreme Court.


• Equal Remuneration Act , 1976-

This act ensures that men get equal pay for the same work they do and prevents discrimination on the basis of sex in the matter of employment and recruitment. In Inder Singh & Others vVyas Muni Mishra & Others [1987 SCR (3) 972] the court observed that when two groups of persons are in the same or similar posts performing the same kind of work, either in the same or in the different departments, equal pay will be given to them and there should be nounreasonable discrimination and the two groups that are similarly situated, should be treated equally.


• Payment of  Gratuity Act , 1972-

This act deals with payment of gratuity which is a retirement benefit available to every employee who has served continuously for 5 years or more. It is made available to all the employees working in factories, mines, oilfields, plantations, ports, railway companies, shops or other establishments. Gratuity” was defined by the Supreme Court in its etymological sense in Delhi Cloth & General Mills Co. Ltd. v. Its Workmen., means a gift, especially  for  services  rendered  or  return  for favours received. [ AIR  1970  SC  919]


• Workmen’s Compensation Act , 1923

Under this act, compensation is made available to the workmen and his dependents on the occurrence of an accident, death and disablement in the course of his employment. It covers all the establishments listed in Schedule II and III of the act but excludes the ones covered by the ESI Act. The Gujarat High Court in Devi BehnDudhabhai v. Manager LibertyTalkies and another[1994-II-LLJ-1207(Guj.)] that even if the cumulative result of a slight injury is death then such injury is compensable.


• Employee's Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act , 1952

The EPF act ensures that contributory provident fund, pension and deposit is made available to the employees. This act applies to establishments specified in Schedule I having 20 or more employees or to any other establishment notified by the Government. In RPFC v. T  S  Hariharan[1971  Lab  IC  951  (SC)],  it  was  held  that  temporary  workers should not be counted to decide whether the Act would apply.

This is the basic overview with the relevant case laws that highlight the various provisions that protect an employee and ensure that they get equal treatment and remuneration.

One of the basic aims behind laying down employment legislation was to meet the basic demands of the employees for better conditions, the right to organize, and the simultaneous demands of employers to restrict the powers of workers, increase in efficiency and to keep the labour costs low.

Efficiency and productivity in one’s work can only be increased if their working conditions are effective to operate in. Protection and empowerment of women employees is another aim which these establishments need to meet.

Some other important employment related legislations include-

• Maternity Benefit Act

The main aim of the Act is to regulate the employment of women in certain establishments for certain periods before and after the childbirth and to provide maternity benefits and certain other benefits. This  act  applies  to the ones who  work  in  factories,  mines,  plantations,  circus  industry,  shops  and establishment  with  more  than  10  employees and  it  does  not  apply  to  employees  covered  under  the Employees  State  Insurance  Act,  1948.  It can be extended to other establishments by a notification of the State Governments.


• Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act 

The aim of the Act is to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and prevention and quick redressal of complaints and other matters connected with women employment. Sexual harassment is a violation of the fundamental right of a woman ie right to equality under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India and right to life and dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Hon'ble Supreme Court of India, inVishaka and Others Vs. State of Rajasthan and Others [AIR1997SC3011] acknowledged the problem of sexual harassment of the working women at the workplaces and laid down guidelines making it mandatory for employers to prevent the commission of acts of sexual harassment and to provide the guidelines for the resolution, settlement or prosecution and redressal of acts of sexual harassment.


• Employee's State Insurance Act

This Act contains provisions for benefits to employees in case of sickness, maternity and employment injury.  All employees including casual, temporary or contract employees drawing wages less than Rs 10000 per month are covered under this act.A notification issued by a State Government under the ESI Act will extend to all branches of the said establishment situated even outside the State. This was observed in the case of Transport Corporation of India v. Employees' State Insurance Corporation,[2000 LIC 203].

It was very important for the legislature to enact these legislations in order to prevent exploitation of the employees by the employers.

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