During the course of their employment, all employees are entitled to certain fundamental duties and rights. These basic rights are proportional to an employer’s duty to make the workplace as comfortable and employee-friendly as possible. These rights safeguard the employee from discrimination based on age, gender, race or religion, protect their interest and entitles them with the right to privacy and fair remuneration.
The employment laws in India lay down several provisions to safeguard the interest of employees, some of which are not applicable to all the employees working in different sectors. For instance, there are no specific laws that govern the rights and obligations of employees working in the private sector. However, there are 8 most important rights applicable to all employees in India, namely:
1. Employment Agreement: An Employment Agreement is a written document, which lays down the terms and conditions of employment and establishes the rights and obligations of the employer and employee. An employee is entitled to get a written employment agreement duly signed by the employer before starting work. A well-written agreement drafted by a labor lawyer can prevent any unforeseen discord between the employer and employee, as the legal course to be taken to resolve any dispute is already stipulated in the employee’s agreement.
2. Leave: During the course of employment, an employee is entitled to leaves and holidays. Generally, there are 4 types of leaves available to an employee in India:
- Casual Leave: An employee can take a casual leave in case of an urgent matter like a family emergency or unforeseen personal matter.
- Paid leave: An employee is entitled to paid leaves which can be availed monthly, quarterly or annually. The employer cannot deduct the employee’s salary for the paid leaves taken.
- Sick leave: An employee is entitled to a fixed number of sick leaves which can be taken in case the employee gets sick.
- Other leaves: Unpaid Leaves can be taken by an employee for which, the employer can deduct the salary of the employee.
Generally, an employee is required to submit a medical certificate in case the sick leaves extend to a period for more than 2 days. This depends on the company’s HR Policies. You must consult a labor lawyer to get the leave policy drafted for your company.
3. Timey Salary: An employee is entitled to receive a timely salary at the end of every month. An employer has the duty to pay the salary amount to an employee after making the requisite deductions like TDS, provident fund, etc. An employee can hire a labor lawyer to take proper legal action against the employer for not paying a salary.
4. Maternity Benefit: A female employee is entitled to maternity/pregnancy leave for 26 weeks which can be availed during pregnancy and/or after the delivery. The Maternity Benefit Act, 2017 safeguards the interest of pregnant and lactating women employers in India. Maternity leave can also be taken in case any complications arise during pregnancy, premature birth, miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy. Some private companies in India are also giving paternity leave to their male employers allowing them to take care of their newborn child.
5. Gratuity: Gratuity is a retirement benefit under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 paid to an employee at the time of retirement, termination, resignation or employee’s death. It is paid in recognition of service to the company, to employees who have completed at least 5 years of continuous service. If the employer does not pay the gratuity amount to the employee, employment lawyers can be consulted to take proper legal action.
6. Provident Fund: Under the Employees’ Provident Funds & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, employees have the option to keep a part of their salary invested in EPF, which is transferred directly by the employer in the PF accounts. The contribution by employer and employee are maintained by the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
7. Notice Period: In case the employer wishes to terminate the employment of an employee, then a notice has to be served to the employee to prepare them for such termination. An employer cannot terminate an employee without giving a notice period. In case, the employer has fired an employee for no substantial reason and no notice, the employee can talk to a labor lawyer to file a complaint against the employer for wrongful termination of employment.
8. Protection against Sexual Harassment: The employer has an obligation to ensure that all employers, women employees, in particular, are protected from any kind of harassment. Any incident of sexual harassment with an employee has to be dealt with promptly and immediately. The employer has to enact a company's policy prohibiting sexual harassment at the workplace and establish a redressal committee to deal with any case of sexual harassment in the office. A woman can file a complaint against sexual harassment at the workplace under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. An employee can also file a sexual harassment case in the labor court by hiring an employment lawyer.
Apart from these rights, the employee also has the right to safe working place with basic amenities, right to appropriate working hours, right to any incentive promised, etc.
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 The Maternity Benefit Act, 2017 - An Act further to amend the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961.
 Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 - An Act to provide for a scheme for the payment of gratuity to employees engaged in factories, mines, oilfields, plantations, ports, railway companies, shops or other establishments and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
 Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 - An Act to provide protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.