A mother in India has said she was forced to “cut her hair short and shave it to keep up with the pressure” as her boss threatened to sack her over unpaid overtime.

A group of six employees of an IT firm, including her husband, have been sacked in the latest case of retaliation against the women over unpaid work for years, a newspaper reported.

The workers, aged between 40 and 50, had been working on the construction site of a new hospital in the city of Lucknow for four years when they were sacked last month over unpaid salaries, a police official said on condition of anonymity.

The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said she had to cut her hair and shave her body hair to keep in touch with her family.

“I had no choice but to take this decision,” she said.

The women had worked on construction sites for the firm for four-and-a-half years, and had been earning about Rs 4,000 a month, she said, adding that the workers’ paychecks were never paid.

She said the firm’s director threatened to terminate the workers over unpaid wages, and threatened her husband with physical violence if she didn’t comply.

In an interview with the Hindustan Times newspaper, she alleged the director had threatened her with physical assault if she did not comply.

“If I don’t pay my dues, I will lose my job,” she added.

One of the workers, who did not want to be named, said her employer’s boss had threatened to take away her husband’s job.

“He said, ‘We will not pay your salary until you pay your overtime.

If you don’t, we will kill you’,” she said.”

The woman said the man had threatened his own family, too.

I feel guilty that I am a victim, she added, adding: “If I did not work for you, I would have given my salary to my husband.”

Another worker, who has a son and daughter, said the woman’s husband had also threatened to kill her and her son.”

I know that if my son works for you he will be a target,” she told the newspaper.

The women’s complaints against the firm came amid a spate of cases in recent months of employers using intimidation and violence to pressure women into unpaid work.

Last year, for example, a young woman in Bengaluru was sacked for refusing to pay the firm a wage for working for over three years.