The Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) has seen a net new addition of female employees more than twice in the last five years as businesses become more inclusive and strive towards greater gender parity. This has resulted in a surge in formal job creation for women in India since 2018–19.
According to EPFO payroll data, the net number of new female employees under the retirement fund body increased from 1.30 million in 2018–19 to 2.8 million in 2022–2023—a 120% increase.
Due to the pandemic, the number of female employees added to EPFO in 2019–20 decreased slightly to 1.39 million in 2020–21 from 1.59 million. It did, however, quickly recover to 2.61 million in 2021–2022.
Furthermore, data from the labour ministry indicates that roughly 53% of women who are unorganized workers have registered on the e-Shram portal, which is devoted to their registration and the building of an extensive national database.
According to ET, Bhupender Yadav, the minister of labour and employment, the net increase in EPFO subscriptions is a measure of how formalized the job market is for women and how many workers in the organized and semi-organized sectors are receiving social security benefits.
“It’s a continuous process, but the government has taken various steps to improve women’s participation in the labour force, to ensure their economic security and quality of employment,” he said, adding that government laws, policies, and programs specifically targeted at women have led to encouraging developments in the female labour market.
Thus, according to the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation’s Periodic Labour Force Survey, the estimated female labour force participation rate (LFPR) on usual status for individuals aged 15 and over increased from 23.3% in 2017–18 to 37.0% in 2022–2023.
Nonetheless, the figure pales in comparison to the global rate of female labour force participation, which the World Bank estimates to be over 50% on its gender data portal.
The labour ministry claims that various protective measures have been added to labour laws to ensure equal opportunity and a friendly workplace for female employees. These include raising the maximum length of paid maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks and providing 12 weeks of leave to mothers who adopt children younger than three months old, as well as commissioning mothers.
Additionally, companies with fifty or more workers are required to set up a childcare facility on the property and allow women to work night shifts as long as they take the necessary safety precautions.
Furthermore, no employer shall discriminate against any employee based on gender in matters about wages in an establishment or any unit thereof regarding the same work or work of a similar nature performed by any employee. This is stated in the Equal Remuneration Act, of 1976, which is now included in the Code on Wages, 2019.