The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, is a significant piece of legislation enacted in India with the objective of ensuring gender equality in terms of wages and remuneration. The act aims to prevent discrimination against women in the workplace and secure equal pay for equal work. Over the years, the act has been reinforced by several landmark case laws, which have played a pivotal role in interpreting and upholding its provisions.

Equal Remuneration Act, 1976: An Overview

The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, was enacted by the Indian Parliament to combat gender-based wage discrimination. Its primary objective is to eliminate pay disparities between men and women who perform the same or similar work. The act covers both the public and private sectors and applies to all establishments employing ten or more persons.

 Key Provisions of the Act:

  1. Equal pay for equal work:

    The act mandates that men and women must receive equal pay for work that is the same, similar, or of equal value.

  2. Prohibition of discrimination:

    It prohibits employers from discriminating against women in matters related to recruitment, promotion, training, and transfer based on gender.

  3. Duty of employers:

    Employers are required to maintain records of employees’ remuneration, job descriptions, and other relevant details to ensure transparency and compliance with the act.

  4. Complaints and penalties:

    The act establishes procedures for filing complaints regarding non-compliance and provides for penalties and fines for violations.

Landmark Case Laws

2.1. Air India vs. Nargesh Meerza (1981):

In this landmark case, the Supreme Court of India interpreted the Equal Remuneration Act and addressed the issue of maternity benefits. The court held that maternity leave cannot be treated as a period of absence or a break in service. It stated that a woman’s right to receive the same pay and benefits during maternity leave should be upheld, as the act intends to provide financial security to women during pregnancy and childbirth.

2.2. Municipal Corporation of Delhi vs. Female Workers (2000):

This case dealt with the issue of pay disparities between men and women working as sweepers for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. The Supreme Court reaffirmed the principle of “equal pay for equal work” and ruled that the employers must ensure that female workers receive the same wages as their male counterparts for work of equal value. It emphasized that the value of work should be determined based on its importance, responsibility, and skills required, irrespective of gender.

2.3. V. Srinivasan vs. The Commissioner for Workmen’s Compensation (2009):

This case highlighted the importance of non-discrimination in matters of promotion. The Madras High Court held that the Equal Remuneration Act prohibits any discrimination in promotions based on gender. It stated that if a woman fulfills the eligibility criteria for a promotion, she cannot be denied it merely on the grounds of her gender.


The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, is a crucial legislation that strives to eliminate gender-based wage discrimination and uphold gender equality in the workplace. The act, reinforced by several influential case laws, has played a significant role in clarifying its provisions and ensuring their effective implementation. These case laws have helped shape the interpretation and application of the act, fostering a fair and inclusive work environment where men and women are treated equally and receive equal pay for equal work.


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