Act of employer denying or reducing the wages or salary of an employee since that employee cannot attend duty during the Covid19 lockdown is ILLEGAL AND PUNISHABLE! Know how

Many reports at different forums suggest that some employers have not paid and not going to pay the normal wages or salaries to their employees for the period during which lockdown has been implemented by the government. The contention of the employers is that during this period they have been compelled to halt all business activities and as the employees are not working they are not obliged to pay any remuneration. On the other hand, the employees are willing to work but they are not allowed to do the same because of the lockdown. Now the question that arises is whether the law supports the contention of employers or that of the employees.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India vide advisory no. M-11011/08/2020-Media dated 20/03/2020 having title In this critical time of the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, the Ministry of Labour and Employment advises all public and private employers to support their employees and workers states: -

“In the backdrop of such challenging situation all the Employers of Public/Private Establishments are advised to extend their coordination by not terminating their employees, particularly casual or contractual workers from a job or reduce their wages. If any worker takes leave, he should be deemed to be on duty without any consequential deduction in wages for this period. Further, if the place of employment is to be made non-operational due to COVID-19, the employees of such unit will be deemed to be on duty”

Thus, the government has made its stand abundantly clear. The advisory suggests that the employer will have to pay the wages or salaries. The advisory states the reason for such stand as “The termination of an employee from the job or reduction in wages in this scenario would further deepen the crises and will not only weaken the the financial condition of the employee but also hamper their morale to combat their fight with this epidemic. In view of this, you are requested to circulate this Advisory to the Employers/Owners of all the establishments registered with your Association for compliance.”

The question now remains that even after a non-ambiguous advisory from the government; some employers have not paid proper remuneration. The employers seem to wrongly rely on the legal principle of “NO WORK NO PAY”. Let us now evaluate this from a legal perspective 

The principle was evaluated by the honorable Supreme Court in the case of Union Of India Etc. Etc vs K.V. Jankiraman (1) as “The normal rule of "no work no pay" is not applicable to  cases where the employee although he is willing to work is  kept away from work by the authorities for no fault of his. This is not a case where the employee remains away from work for his own' reasons, although the work is offered to him.”

Thus it is clear that those employers who are not paying proper wages are open to legal ramifications.

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1 comment: Leave Your Comments

  1. What if any employee takes leave even if we are offering them work from home