Employers’ Excuses For Not Paying Full Salary During Lockdown Invalid: Govt To Supreme Court
On March 29th, Govt of India had issued a notification for all employers, that the salaries of their employees during lockdown should not be stopped.
Although this notification was valid only till May 17th, but a very interesting development has occurred, related to the execution of this order.
Govt of India has informed that excuses laid forth by the employer such as financial incapacity is not valid.
What does this actually mean?
The Case So Far
A company from Karnataka called Ficus Pax had challenged Govt of India’s order dated March 29th to pay full salaries to all employees during the lockdown.
In their petition to the Supreme Court, Ficus Pax contended that the order was “arbitrary, illegal, irrational, unreasonable and contrary to the provisions of law including Article 14 and Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.”
Hence, they pleaded that this order should not be executed.
Note here, that this order for all employers to pay full salary was valid only till May 17th, however, in case the nation goes through another lockdown, then the verdict of this case holds much importance.
Based on this petition, the Supreme Court asked MHA to reply.
Ministry Of Home Affairs Reply To Supreme Court
Replying to this petition, Ministry Of Home Affairs stated that excuses such as financial inability to pay salaries to the employees during the lockdown doesnt hold weight, since it’s a “legally untenable ground’.
MHA said, “The ground for challenging the March 29 notification by the employers is primarily financial hardship, lack of desire or incapacity of the employers to pay the workers during lockdown without taking work from them. Financial incapacity is a legally untenable ground to challenge a direction issued by a competent authority in exercise of its statutory power.”
However, MHA has maintained that this notification was a temporary measure to help employees during lockdown, since they cannot go to their offices and factories.
MHA said that these measures were announced to “mitigate the financial hardship of the employees and workers specially contractual and casual during the lockdown period.”
MHA also appealed that since this notification was valid only till May 17th, “it would not be proper to adjudicate in the interest of justice the validity of the notification which stayed in operation for only 54 days.”
We will keep you updated, as more details come in.