Q9. At 9 pm on Saturday evening, Rashika, a Joint Secretary, was still engrossed in her work in her office. Her husband, Vikram, is an executive in an MNC and frequently out of town in connection with his work. Their two children aged 5 and 3 are looked after by their domestic helper. At 9:30 pm her superior, Mr. Suresh calls her and asks her to prepare a detailed note on an important matter to be discussed in a meeting in the Ministry. She realises that she will have to work on Sunday to finish the additional task given by her Superior. She reflects on how she had looked forward to this posting and had worked long hours for months to achieve it. She had kept the welfare of people uppermost in discharging her duties. She feels that she has not done enough justice to her family and she has not fulfilled her duties in discharging essential social obligations. Even as recently as last month she had to leave her sick child in the nanny’s care as she had to work in the office. Now, she feels that she must draw a line, beyond which her personal life should take precedence over her professional responsibilities. She thinks that there should be reasonable limits to the work ethics such as punctuality, hard work, dedication to duty and selfless service.
(a) Discuss the ethical issues involved in the case.
(b) Briefly describe at least four laws that have been enacted by the government with respect to providing a healthy, safe and equitable working environment for women.
(c) Imagine you are in a similar situation. What suggestions would you make to mitigate such working conditions? (20m) Case Study
The case study presents a moral dilemma faced by Rashika, a Joint Secretary, torn between her demanding professional duties and her responsibilities as a wife and mother. This ethical conundrum prompts a reflection on work ethics, societal obligations and the need for a balanced work-life approach.
a) The ethical issues involved in the case
- Personal Life Vs Professional Life balance
- Socialisation of the Children getting affected
- Gender Justice as her husband is often out of the city but she has to handle the double burden
- Work Culture at the office that demands compromise of the quality time spent with the family.
- Social constructs as household responsibilities are considered as the exclusive domain of the women.
- Mental health of the working women as they feel incompleteness at both levels (personal and professional), as felt by Rashika.
b) Laws that have been enacted by the Government with respect to providing a healthy, safe and
equitable working environment for women.
- The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
Article 39 of the Constitution envisages that the state shall direct its policy, among other things, towards ensuring that there is equal pay for equal work for both men and women. To give effect to this Constitutional provision The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 was passed to provide for the payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers and for the prevention of discrimination, on the grounds of sex, against women in the matter of employment.
- The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (Amended in 2017)
Article 42 of the Constitution of India imposes an obligation upon the state to make
provisions for securing just and human conditions of work and for maternity relief. Major
provisions of the act are:
- 26 weeks paid leave for the delivery of the first 2 children.
- 12 weeks paid leave for
- The birth of more than 2 children
- Commissioning mother (Opting Surrogacy option)
- Adopting mother
- 6 Weeks leave in cse of miscarriage
- Provision of Creche facility
- The Prohibition of Sexual Harassment of women at Workplace Act, 2013
Act seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work. Some of the
details of the act are:
- Section 4 lays down the establishment of an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC).
- If a workplace has less than 10 employees it is difficult to set up ICC. In that case complaints may be filed at the local complaints committee (LOC) established at the district level.
- Section 9 requires that a complaint of sexual harassment be filed within three months of the date of the incident.
- Section 19 requires employers to organize an orientation, workshops and awareness programs for sensitizing employees to the harms of sexual harassment and to provide assistance to the complainant should she choose to file a police complaint.
- Further, employers are required to display at the workplace details of the penal consequences of indulging in acts of sexual harassment, the composition of the ICC, and the grievance redressal mechanism available to aggrieved employees.
- The Factories Act, 1948
The act aims to provide for a few measures for the health and safety of workers. Though it
is gender neutral law, it has some key provisions related to women workers:
- Women must have separate toilets and washrooms with doors.
- If a factory has more than 30 women workers the employer must provide a creche for the workers children.
- Women cannot be made to lift more than the prescribed weight.
- Women cannot be made to clean or oil any moving machine.
- Women cannot be made to work more than 48 hours in a week.
- Women must get one day off in a week.
- Women cannot be made to work for more than 5 hours at a stretch.
- Women cannot be made to work only between 6 in the morning and 7 in the evening.
- State government can grant exemption to nay factory or group or class of factories, but no woman can be permitted to work during 10 PM to 5 A
- c) Suggestions I would make to mitigate such working conditions
- Suggestions to Husband
- To share responsibilities towards upbringing of children.
- To ask if he can manage work from home in case a woman has to work on holidays.
- Suggestions to Seniors
- To provide compensatory off if an employee is working on holidays.
- Provide flexible working hours to employees so that they can manage work-life balance.
- To allow children at the workplace in exceptional circumstances.
- To avoid gender discriminatory workload distribution.
- Suggestions to Rashika
- It is of utmost importance to keep motivated towards professional responsibilities.
- Very few people get an opportunity to serve at the highest level of the organisation, it is our duty to do justice to our responsibilities.
- Have a conversation with family members, husband to get out of the dilemma of the personal life Vs Professional responsibilities.
It is important to provide a conducive environment to women at both family and official level so that they can achieve new heights in their professional capacity without feeling delineated from the family responsibilities.
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