2023 GS4 Answer

Q. 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 this 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?

Question from UPSC Mains 2023 GS4 Paper

Model Answer: 

Ethical Issues Involved:

1. Work-Life Balance: The case highlights the ethical issue of work-life balance, which is essential for the overall well-being of an individual. Rashika is struggling to balance her professional responsibilities with her personal life, which is causing her stress and dissatisfaction.

2. Employee Welfare: Another ethical issue is the lack of consideration for employee welfare. The superior’s demand for additional work without considering Rashika’s personal commitments reflects a disregard for her well-being.

3. Gender Equality: There is also an issue of gender equality. Rashika, being a woman, is expected to fulfil her professional responsibilities along with her familial duties. This reflects the societal expectation that women should bear the burden of household responsibilities, irrespective of their professional commitments.

4. Ethical Dilemma: Rashika is facing an ethical dilemma where she has to choose between her professional responsibilities and her personal life. This raises questions about the ethical values of duty and responsibility.

Laws Enacted by the Government for Women’s Working Environment:

1. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013: This Act provides protection to women from sexual harassment at their place of work and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment.

2. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961: This Act regulates the employment of women and maternity benefits mandated by law. It states that a woman employee who has worked in an organisation for a period of at least 80 days during the 12 months preceding the date of her expected delivery is entitled to receive maternity benefits, which includes maternity leave, nursing breaks, medical allowance etc.

3. The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976: This Act provides for the payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers for the same work, or work of a similar nature, and for the prevention of discrimination on the grounds of sex.

4. The Factories Act, 1948: This Act ensures the health, safety, welfare, working hours of adults and the employment of young persons and women. It prohibits the employment of women between 7 P.M. and 6 A.M.

Suggestions to Mitigate Such Working Conditions:

1. Flexibility: Employers should provide flexible working hours and the option to work from home, especially for employees with family commitments.

2. Employee Support: Employers should provide support services such as childcare facilities, counselling services, and paid leave for family emergencies.

3. Sensitisation Programs: Employers should conduct sensitisation programs to create a supportive and understanding work culture.

4. Clear Communication: Employees should communicate their personal commitments to their superiors and negotiate a reasonable workload.

5. Work Delegation: Proper delegation of work can ensure that the workload is evenly distributed and no single employee is overburdened.

6. Legal Compliance: Employers should adhere to the laws enacted by the government for the welfare of women employees.

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