Doctrine of “equal pay for equal work”

doctrine of “equal pay for equal work

The doctrine of “equal pay for equal work” mentions that individuals should be entitled to equal remuneration provided the work is same, irrespective of the gender, caste or religion. This to ensure that there is no discrimination between any individual. This legal principle is very well recognized in India. There are legislations which mention about the same. The Constitution of India refers to this doctrine under Article 39 (to be read with Article 14). Further, it is an issue that relates to labor rights. The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 is an Act which provides for the payment of equal pay to men and women workers and to avoid any sort of discrimination on the grounds of sex. Also, this particular principle is also identified on an international forum. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the European Social Charter African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Constitution of the International Labour Organization also focus on the same policy. This factor of equality is a very important element and it signifies women are having the freedom to be themselves and are totally free to develop their capabilities without any restrictions set by stereotypes or rigid gender roles.

Constitutional perspective

The legal principle of “equal pay for qual work” is mentioned under Article 39(d), part IV of the Constitution of India. It states that the State should direct its policy towards securing the objective that there is an equal remuneration for both men and women. It indicates that where the work is same, all the circumstances and considerations are similar then the people holding identical posts or ranks shall not be treated in a different way on the basis of the gender. In Randhir Singh v UOI[1], it was held by Supreme Court that though this doctrine is mentioned under Part IV of the Constitution and it does not have a status of a Fundamental Right, but it is certainly regarded as a constitutional goal. Therefore, it can be enforced through the remedies provided under the Article 32 of the Constitution. The Court in a case[2] has also held that this principle can only be invoked if there is a similarity in the nature of the job and it carries the same qualification otherwise it cannot be said to qualify the doctrine. This Article aims to establish equality between men and women and to ensure that there is equal status of individuals in India. This doctrine seeks to balance the rights of individuals and try to promote respect, equity and respect. The Preamble of the Constitution seeks to achieve and provide social, economic and political justice to all the citizens of the country. Article 14 guarantees equality within the Indian Territory and Article 15 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sex, religion, caste etc. Hence the Constitution treats each and every citizen equal and further provides them with equal right. 

The equal remuneration act, 1976

In pursuance to the Constitution of India, an ordinance was promulgated on 26th September, 1975 known as the Equal Remuneration Ordinance, 1975. It was further converted into an Act in 1976, the Equal remuneration Act[3]. Prior to this Act, women were struggling for equal rights and wages. This Act provides provisions against discrimination in recruitment and promotion of men and women[4]. The same was also held in the case of Dharwad District P.W.D. Literate Daily Wage Employees Association and others v. State of Karnataka and another[5].

Section 5 of this Act also mentions that there shall be no discrimination while appointing men and women for identical work. The Act further establishes an Advisory Committee to increase the employment opportunity for women and also have the power to decide on the related matters. It also provides for the maintenance of registers or any other document in order to avoid any unfair practices. The sole objective of this entire legislation is to provide equal pay or wages to an individual.

International perspective

The concept of equal payment has not only been a domestic one but has a worldwide concern and hence has been discussed in the International forum through various charters and conventions. Convention number 100 which may be cited as the Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 which clearly states that wages shall be equal for the works of similar value without any discrimination[6]. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which reiterates the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all human rights[7] mentions that the State Parties to the Covenant shall provide basic rights to the people with respect to the equal remuneration for equal work and women shall not be treated inferior to men[8]. The same has been provided by the European Social Charter under Article 4[9].


Though the provision related to this doctrine is mentioned under Part IV of the Indian Constitution and has not been included under the head of Fundamental Rights, but it is equally important as it has been clearly stated by the Supreme Court that Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy are complementary and supplementary to each other[10]. This issue is of relevance in the present world. India seeks to achieve a classless society and further removes all the barriers that exist between men and women. On the other hand, The Equal Remuneration Act is promoting women empowerment and further establishes this fact that there is no difference between a man and a woman. Also, international charters and declarations make it obvious for the State Parties to follow the same which specifically mentions about this doctrine. These legislations, provisions, articles motivate and encourage women to work and make their own identity. The Preamble to the Constitution emphasizes upon the principle of equality as basic to the constitution which gives the idea of oneness, unity and integrity of the nation. It is one of the basic features of the Indian Constitution and any act which is unequal in nature will be considered as violation the basic structure of the Indian Constitution.

“The views of the authors are personal


[1](1982) LLJ 344

[2]Deb Narayan Shyam v. State of West Bengal, (2005) 2 SCC 286

[3]S.N. Mishra, Labour and Industrial Laws 1108,1109 (28th Edition, Central Law Publications, 2018)

[4]Equal Remuneration Act, 1976: Rules and Regulations, Global Thinker (27th September, 2019, 15:45),

[5](1991) II LLJ 328 (SC)

[6]Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951, International Labour Office,—ed_norm/—declaration/documents/publication/wcms_decl_fs_84_en.pdf

[7] International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Audiovisual Library of International Law, (16th December, 1996),

[8]International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, United Nations Human Rights Office of High Commissioner,

[9]European Social Charter,

[10]Unni Krishnan JP and others. Etc. v. State of Andhra Pradesh and ors. (1993) AIR 2178