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Employers must be considerate, sympathetic towards pregnant employees: Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court on December 12, 2018 directed that women should be honoured and treated with dignity at workplace and observed that employers must be considerate and sympathetic towards a pregnant employee.

The high court stated that the employer must realise the physical difficulties that a woman would face in performing her duties at the workplace while carrying a baby in her womb or looking after the child after birth.

The court's observations came while directing the Delhi government to include a woman in the panel for guest teachers and utilise her services as and when required by any school here, subject to her medical fitness.

The Judgement: Key Highlights

The court stated that women who constitute almost half of the segment of the society have to be given due weightage and honoured and treated with dignity at places where they work to earn their livelihood. The bench said that to become a mother is the most natural phenomena in the life of a woman.

It said that the employer has to be considerate and sympathetic and must realise the physical difficulties faced by a working woman in performing her duties at the workplace while carrying a baby in the womb or while looking after the child after birth.

The court directed the office of Deputy Directorate of Education of the Delhi government to issue necessary order to this effect within two weeks.

Background

  • The high court had passed the judgement while hearing a petition by a woman that seeked to quash the Delhi government's order which had stated that her candidature may be considered for the post of Guest Teacher PGT (Hindi) in future, subject to availability of the vacancy and production of medical fitness certificate from the competent authority.
  • The woman had said that the department had advertised a notice on May 26, 2017 for 'Drawing a Panel for Guest Teachers for Empanelment in Delhi Government Schools for the Academic Year 2017-18'.
  • The department had then issued another notice in September 2017 calling all the selected guest teachers for verification of their documents and later the woman had got selected and got her credentials verified.
  • On January 28, 2018, the woman gave birth to a child through caesarean and two days later, the authorities asked the selected candidates to appear at their office between February 1-3 for further verification of documents.
  • The woman stated in her plea that despite the fact that she had a caesarean delivery only few days prior, she went to the office on February 3 for final verification of her documents but the officials "behaved differently and even harassed her by not marking her attendance". She said that despite communications, she was not issued the joining letter.
  • In response to the plea, the department told the court that the public notice was issued only for making a panel of guest teachers and once the panel was finalised, further engagement as a guest teacher was to be taken on the basis of requirement expressed by any school.
  • "Therefore, any person who was engaged pursuant to the said public notice was enrolled in the panel of guest teachers. Such person, who is enrolled as guest teacher in the panel, has not any vested or legal right to be further engaged as a guest teacher. Thus, there is no merit in the petition and deserves to be dismissed," it had said.
  • The court said that the department did not entertain the woman's case thinking that she recently delivered a child through caesarean process, therefore would not be able to work if any requirement comes from the school.
  • The court allowed the woman's plea to squash the government's order.
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