The legal challenges and progress in achieving equal Pay and Combating Gender-Based Wage Discrimination


This research paper explores the legal challenges and progress in achieving equal pay and combating gender-based wage discrimination. We want to thoroughly grasp this topic’s difficulties within India’s distinctive socio-cultural and legal environment by examining the existing legal framework, landmark cases, legislative activities, enforcement mechanisms, and unique Indian viewpoints.

To lay the groundwork, we will give some basic information on wage discrimination and the female pay gap in India. The gender pay gap between men’s and women’s average incomes points to structural inequality and institutional bias. The uneven treatment of people based on their gender in terms of remuneration, benefits, or opportunities for promotion within the Indian workforce is known as wage discrimination, and it is one of the leading causes of the gender pay gap in that country.

Comprehensive approaches are needed to solve these issues. To close the wage gap and promote workplace equality, this paper will examine the developments that have taken place and the difficulties that remain in the fight for equal pay and the elimination of gender-based wage discrimination.


Equal pay, wage discrimination, gender wage pays gaps, occupational discrimination, structural inequality, institutional bias, The Equal Remuneration Act, International Labour Organisation, multi-stakeholder cooperation, Minimum Wages Act of 1948, the Payment of Wages Act of 1936.


In India, wage disparity and wage discrimination have become significant issues. Despite initiatives to advance gender equality and advance women, there are still wage gaps between men and women in India’s many industries and professions. Equal pay for equal labour is still challenging, and India’s legal system is crucial in addressing and redressing the existing systematic injustices.

Background on the Gender Pay Gap and Wage Discrimination in India:

The disparity in average incomes between men and women is called the gender pay gap in India. It manifests the structural injustices and institutionalised prejudices that women in the Indian workforce experience. The gender pay gap is sometimes exacerbated for women by lower earnings, less prospects for higher-paying jobs, and occupational segregation.

A significant component of the gender pay gap is wage discrimination, which is treating people differently depending on their gender, whether it comes to perks, opportunities for development, or remuneration. Women typically face unfair treatment, including lower beginning salaries, uneven pay for the same job, and obstacles to professional advancement.[1]

Significance of the Issue:

For various reasons, addressing the gender pay gap and wage discrimination in India is of utmost importance. First and first, ensuring that women are appreciated for their contributions to labour and paid relatively is a question of fairness and social justice. Second, closing the gender wage gap may increase women’s economic empowerment, help reduce poverty, and promote inclusive economic growth, all of which have significant financial ramifications. Furthermore, eliminating gender-based prejudices and stereotypes that support inequities in the Indian workplace is essential for fostering an inclusive and progressive society.

Regulations for equal pay

Several laws and regulations shape the legal foundation for equal pay in India. A key piece of legislation addressing gender-based salary inequities is the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976.[2] Equal compensation for similar efforts is required under this law, which forbids gender-based pay discrimination. However, despite legislative provisions, equivalent pay regulations in India need help in implementation and enforcement, including low awareness, weak enforcement mechanisms, and insufficient data gathering.

Several factors contribute to wage discrimination and the gender pay gap in India. Critical reasons impacting salary discrepancies include occupational segregation, cultural norms, prejudice in recruiting and promotion practices, and the effect of conventional gender roles. The gender wage gap is further made worse by the proliferation of informal and unregulated employment sectors.

Examining significant legal decisions influencing equal pay and wage discrimination in India offers insights into how the law is applied and interpreted as it changes. Progress and guaranteeing justice for pay discrimination victims depend critically on court judgements, legal reasoning, and their effects on setting precedents.

Essential factors to consider are enforcement strategies and legal recourse for pay discrimination victims in India. Investigating the efficiency of current enforcement bodies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and labour departments, aids in evaluating their contributions to eliminating pay discrepancies and offering compensation to those harmed. The choices accessible to victims of pay discrimination in India can be better understood by examining the legal remedies that are currently in place, such as registering complaints or pursuing legal action.

It is crucial to consider particular Indian viewpoints and problems as India advances towards attaining equal pay and combatting wage discrimination. Understanding the potential and constraints within the Indian environment may be gained through examining policy measures, governmental efforts, and civil society activities targeted at fostering gender equality and eliminating salary inequities. By critically analysing the legal system, highlighting significant advancements, and offering specialised policy suggestions, we want to support continuing efforts to build a more equal and inclusive society in India.


This study article takes a thorough and multidisciplinary approach to explore the legislative obstacles and developments in attaining equal pay and addressing gender-based wage discrimination. The analysis of data, case study analysis, legal analysis, and literature assessment are some of the significant components of the research method. Traditional legal research and case analysis approaches entailed manual processes, including visiting law libraries, searching through print resources like case reporters and legal encyclopaedias, utilising legal citators to track case history, and manually cross-referencing material. The researchers examined and interpreted legal writings, using indexes and catalogues to find pertinent legal resources, and then based their study on those texts.

Research Methodology

The research methodology for this study involves a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to examining the legal challenges and progress in achieving equal pay and combating gender-based wage discrimination in the Indian context. It involves qualitative research by including various books, websites and studies of given data on the equal wage.

The procedure required much time, limited access to resources, was prone to inaccurate or out-of-date information, and strongly relied on the researcher’s legal research skills.

Review of Literature

According to S. Agnes and R. Kumar’s edited book “Gendered Inequalities in Asia: Configuring, Contesting and Recognising Women and Work”:

The edited book by Agnes and Kumar thoroughly analyses gendered disparities in Asia, emphasising India in particular. The book examines the difficulties women experience in the workplace and the roadblocks to equal chances and fair pay. It provides essential insights into how institutions, policies, and cultural norms contribute to the persistence of gender-based pay discrepancies. This book offers insightful insights into gender-based pay discrimination in India by examining how gender intersects with other social categories and addressing the consequences of attaining gender equality in the workplace.[3]

Swarna Rajagopalan’s “Gender and Work in Urban India: Readings”

The readings compiled by Rajagopalan examine women’s experiences working in India’s cities. It examines several aspects of gender-based pay discrimination, such as biased hiring procedures and occupational segregation. This book gives critical insights into attaining equal pay and eliminating gender-based wage discrepancies by highlighting the challenges and possibilities women face in many areas. The collection is a valuable tool for comprehending the intricacies of women’s work experiences and the structural issues that need to be resolved in the Indian setting.[4]


Legal Framework for Equal Pay

The legal framework for equal pay consists of several laws and rules intended to prevent salary discrimination based on gender. The Equal Remuneration Act of 1976[5] is one of India’s most critical legislations addressing equal pay. Equal compensation for equal effort is required under this law, which forbids gender-based pay discrimination.

Men and women must get equal compensation for labour of the same kind, ability, effort, and responsibility, according to the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976. It includes various occupational categories and applies to both the public and private sectors. The statute forbids companies from lowering employee compensation to adhere to the equal pay concept.

Additionally, by setting minimum wage requirements and assuring prompt payment of salaries to employees, laws like the Minimum Wages Act of 1948[6] and the Payment of Wages Act of 1936[7] contribute to the legal framework around equal pay.

Even with these regulations in place, enforcing equal pay rules in India is still difficult. The burden of proof is a significant obstacle that frequently makes it difficult for employees to support their allegations of pay discrimination. It is usually the employee’s responsibility to show a prima facie case of discrimination, which can be difficult.

Another issue is that pay practices are opaque, which makes it harder for workers to recognise wage inequalities and demand their rights. Many organisations lack regulations that explicitly define the standards for calculating compensation and transparent payment structures, which leaves room for possible prejudice and discrimination.

It is crucial to develop procedures that ease the burden of evidence, such as bettering data collecting and salary recording, to address these issues and increase the implementation of equal pay regulations. It is also critical to encourage businesses to create transparent payment structures and conduct frequent pay audits to find and address wage inequalities and promote pay practices’ openness.

In conclusion, the Equal Remuneration Act 1976 and other relevant laws essentially manage the legal foundation for equal pay in India. Although these rules lay the groundwork for combating gender-based pay discrimination, difficulties still exist in their application. To overcome these obstacles, proactive steps must be taken to lessen the onus of evidence on employees and encourage openness in pay practices inside organisations.

Gender-Based Wage Discrimination: Causes and Impacts:

Several reasons, including gender-based wage discrimination, sustain the gender pay disparity in India. One crucial issue is occupational segregation, when women are disproportionately represented in devalued or historically low-paying sectors or employment categories. Women’s access to higher-paying jobs is restricted by this occupational segregation, which also adds to the gender wage gap.[8]

Another significant effect is bias in recruiting and promotion procedures. Unconscious biases and stereotypes can affect decisions, giving women less chance to develop in their professions or obtain higher-paying jobs. Preconceived assumptions about gender roles and talents can lead to lower incomes and fewer opportunities for professional advancement for women.

Women who face pay inequality have severe social and economic repercussions. Economically, pay inequality restricts women’s ability to earn money and achieve financial independence. Their capacity to build money, make investments, and ensure their long-term financial security is impacted by lower income. The gender wage gap impedes overall economic growth and development and perpetuates economic disparities.

Socially, pay discrimination adds to a larger pattern of gender-based disadvantages and promotes gender inequality. It impacts women’s empowerment, standing in society as a whole, and their capacity to exercise agency and make decisions about their personal and professional life. In addition to reinforcing conventional gender norms and expectations, wage gaps also contribute to damaging preconceptions and reduce the chances for women to succeed professionally.[9]

Recognising intersectional views on gender-based pay discrepancies is crucial. The concept of intersectionality acknowledges how gender interacts with several facets of identity, including race, ethnicity, caste, and socioeconomic status, leading to diverse experiences of discrimination and increasing pay inequities. Women from underrepresented groups frequently experience numerous forms of discrimination, which makes them more susceptible to wage gaps and restricts their access to job opportunities.

Understanding the complex nature of pay inequality and creating efficient policies and initiatives to alleviate them require an intersectional approach. It necessitates recognising the particular difficulties women confront as they juggle numerous identities and developing measures to lessen the many types of prejudice they encounter.[10]

In conclusion, prejudice in recruiting and promotion procedures and occupational segregation impact gender-based pay discrimination in India. Its effects on women’s social and economic well-being are extensive. In order to investigate pay differences and solve the particular difficulties experienced by women from various backgrounds, it is crucial to use an intersectional perspective. We may endeavour to reduce salary inequalities and encourage greater gender equality in the workforce by addressing the underlying reasons and enacting inclusive policies.

Case laws

The Supreme Court of India declared the equal pay for equal labour rules unfit for implementation in a court of law after considering them in the case Kishori Mohanlal Bakshi v. Union of India[11]. Nevertheless, it received the recognition it deserved in 1987 due to the Mackinnon Mackenzie case, which involved a dispute over equal pay for male and female stenographers.

The court supported the idea of equal compensation for equal labour; hence, it decided to favour female stenographers. The court thought that Article 38(d) of the Indian Constitution, which states that the state will try to limit pay imbalances and try to eliminate disparities in status, offices, and openings among people as well as among groups of people living in different territories with different livelihoods, was misunderstood. This was stated in the case S. Narkara v. Union of India.[12]

The disparity in pay rate between graduate supervisors with engineering degrees and non-graduate supervisors with diplomas and licences was affirmed in Markendeya v. State of Andhra Pradesh.[13] It was determined that such a variation in pay scales was permissible and would not violate Articles 14 and 16 based on the differences in educational backgrounds. The Court made the point that two classes of employees would be entitled to equal remuneration if they performed the same or similar tasks, carried out the same roles with the same level of responsibility, and had the same academic credentials.

Recent studies and reports on the gender pay gap

The informal sector, which includes all jobs except crop-based farming, has a pay gap of 19.78%, per the statistics released by NSSO for 2011–2012 (Prasad, 2016). The industry accounts for 55% of India’s billions, and because women are disproportionately represented in the primary sector, many face salary discrimination based on gender. Indian males earned a median gross hourly wage of 288.68. In contrast, Indian women earned 207.85 per hour, according to the most recent Monster Wage Index by online career and recruiting solutions provider Monster India (PTI, 2016). According to a sector-by-sector study, the manufacturing industry has the most significant female pay disparity (34.9%). In contrast, the BFSI and Transport, Logistics, and Communication sectors have the most minor gender pay gaps (17.7% each) (PTI, 2016). [14]

Over time, the margin has been getting less. Before 2007, the formal sector had a 44.8% imbalance (Reddy, 2016). According to the NSSO statistics, the pay gap in the unorganised sector has decreased from 29.2% in 2004–2005 to 19.78% in 2011–2012 (Reddy, 2016). A breakdown of the gender salary gap by industry is shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Gender Pay Gap in Different Sectors.

SectorGender Pay Gap
Legal and market consultancy, business activities24.20%
Information and communication technology34%
Health care, caring services, social work26%
Education, research22%
Financial services, banking, insurance17.70%
Transport, logistics, communication17.70%
Construction and technical consultancy25.30%

Source –

International Perspectives on Equal Pay:

Opportunities exist to tackle gender-based pay discrimination jointly through global collaboration and knowledge exchange. Information exchange, policy discussion, and the transmission of best practices can be facilitated through forums like the United Nations, International Labour Organisation (ILO), and other regional groups. Working together may help nations learn from one another and adapt effective techniques, including data-gathering methodology, enforcement systems, and policy actions. Governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and international institutions can collaborate to support technical assistance programmes and capacity-building efforts for nations looking to reduce pay gaps. The fight against gender-based wage discrimination and the advancement of equal pay may be bolstered by countries cooperating and exchanging experiences, resources, and knowledge.[15]

It is essential to recognise how different each country’s setting is and to modify international strategies to meet every nation’s unique requirements and difficulties. Countries with different cultural norms, legal systems, and labour market dynamics demand specialised strategies. Nevertheless, international cooperation offers a valuable forum for knowledge sharing and supporting a worldwide movement for gender parity in compensation.[16]

In conclusion, comparing the policies and regulations governing equal pay in many nations reveals the most successful methods and techniques for resolving wage inequalities. Successful international strategies offer lessons that emphasise the value of multi-stakeholder cooperation and preventative actions. Opportunities for cross-border cooperation and information sharing provide ways to bolster global efforts to abolish gender-based pay discrimination. By building on shared experiences and resources, countries can work towards achieving gender equality in pay on a global scale.Top of Form


These results highlight the need for ongoing efforts and initiatives to achieve equal pay and abolish gender-based wage discrimination in India. This necessitates a multifaceted strategy, which includes:[17]

1. Improving the legal framework by reviewing and updating current legislation to close gaps, strengthen enforcement tactics, and encourage pay transparency.

2. Encouraging organisations to implement open compensation structures and reporting processes to spot and address wage inequalities.

3. Promoting diversity and inclusion by implementing policies to address biases in recruiting and promotion procedures, giving everyone an equal chance to succeed in their careers, and developing welcoming workplaces.

4. Improving the means for enforcing laws: Increasing the ability and resources of enforcement organisations to look into complaints efficiently, carry out pay audits, and impose fines on non-compliance.

5. Creating public awareness and fighting for change: Launching public education campaigns to inform employers, workers, and the general public about the value of equal pay, gender equality, and the adverse effects of wage discrimination.

Significant progress may be achieved towards attaining equal pay and decreasing gender-based wage discrimination in India by implementing these policies and working with partners from the government, employers, civil society organisations, and people.


This research article has primarily focused on the Indian context to investigate the legislative obstacles and developments in attaining equal pay and addressing gender-based wage discrimination. After thoroughly examining the legal system, pay discrimination’s origins and effects, contemporary trends and advancements, global perspectives, and lessons gained, several important conclusions have been drawn.

First off, it is clear that gender-based wage differences still exist in India despite the existence of legislation and initiatives to promote equal pay. The gender wage gap results from several factors, including occupational segregation, prejudice in recruiting and promotion procedures, and a lack of transparency.

Second, progress has been achieved in resolving salary inequities through pay transparency, diversity and inclusion programmes, and government legislation. However, sustained efforts are needed to ensure the effective implementation and enforcement of equal pay laws and to overcome persistent challenges.

International viewpoints have also offered helpful insights into practical methods and tactics for overcoming gender-based pay inequality. Lessons acquired from other nations emphasise the value of multi-stakeholder engagement, preventative measures, and targeted interventions designed for particular circumstances.

In conclusion, obtaining equal pay is essential for gender equality, social well-being, and economic progress, in addition to being a question of justice and fairness. More work must be done individually and collectively to solve legal issues, raise awareness, and build an inclusive and equitable society where everyone is paid fairly and equally for their job. It is time to reconfirm our dedication and join forces to create a world free from gender-based pay discrimination.


Shambhavi Shahi
Symbiosis Law School Noida

[1] OpEd: The gender pay gap, hard truths and actions needed, (Sept. 19, 2022),–en/index.htm.

[2] Equal Remuneration Act, Chief Labour Commissioner

[3] Gendered inequalities in Asia : configuring, contesting and recognizing women and men,

[4] Swarna Rajagopalan, Swarna Rajagopalan, India Development Review (Apr. 18, 2018),

[5]  Equal Remuneration Acts and Rules, 1976, Ministry of Labour & Employment|Government of Ind (Nov. 18, 2015),

[6] Minimum Wages Act, 1948, (July 16, 2012),

[7] Irfan Akram, Payment Of Wages Act, 1936, (Nov. 20, 2015),

[8] “Women’s work” and the gender pay gap: How discrimination, societal norms, and other forces affect women’s occupational choices—and their pay, Economic Policy Institute

[9] 7.3 Effects on gender pay-gaps, (Apr. 22, 2016),–en/index.htm.

[10] Explaining Trends In The Gender Wage Gap,

[11] Kishori Mohanlal Bakshi v. Union of India, AIR 1962 SC 1139

[12] (1983) 1 SCC 305: A.I.R. 1983 S.C. 130.

[13] V. Markendeya v. State of A.P., (1989) 3 SCC 191

[14] Sengupta, P., & Puri, R. (2022). Gender Pay Gap in India: A Reality and the Way Forward—An Empirical Approach Using Quantile Regression Technique. Studies in Microeconomics, 10(1), 50–81.


[16] Chart of the Week: Equal Pay Remains a Global Issue, (Aug. 6, 2018),

[17] OpEd: The gender pay gap, hard truths and actions needed, (Sept. 19, 2022),–en/index.htm.

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