Marriage Bar

Posted in Human Resources Terms, Total Reads: 961

Definition: Marriage Bar

Marriage bar is the practice of termination women from their jobs once they are married or not hiring married women in a particular profession or job profiles. The practice was outlawed in the 1960’s as discrimination against women and inequality in employment.


This practice of marriage bars arose in teaching and clerical work in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. In 1920 only a few of the married women were in teaching and clerical positions. The condition however improved around the 1970’s when the percentage of married women in the labor force increased. There was no economic justification for this practice of “marriage bars”. Even though this practice could be justified in times of depression when there was a shortage of jobs, this practice continued even after the depression. 

There were two types of marriage bars- the one which was against the hiring of married women was known as “hire bar” and the other which was against the retention of married women employees was known as “retain bar”. Since firing of existing employees is a costly affair, institutions and firms retained single women they hired when they married but changed their status to temporary or substitute workers as a result they could be dismissed any time and their salary was not based on their tenure in the organization.

Some of the reasons which were given during those times for implementing marriage bars were that since single women did not have a family they were more flexible and mobile than married women, also it was argued that any way when single women got married a lot of them left their jobs leading to more turnover. Another reason given was that married women had their husbands to support them hence single women were in more need for jobs than married women. Also it became cheap and cost effective for the firms to discriminate against married women as they did not have to pay fixed salary to these employees.

Hence, this concludes the definition of Marriage Bar along with its overview.


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