MHA Withdraws Order Asking Employers to Pay Wages During Lockdown

MHA Withdraws Order Asking Employers to Pay Wages During Lockdown

Obaid Chishti/Deoria: The Centre has withdrawn its previous order from March which had directed employers to pay wages to their workers during the lockdown. It is no longer compulsory for employers to pay the workers even when the organizations remain shut due to the lockdown 4.0 announced by the government on Sunday, 17 May.

In a new advisory on Sunday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said, “Save as otherwise provided in the guidelines annexed to this order, all orders issued by the NEC (national executive committee) under Section 10(2)(I) of the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005, shall cease to have effect from 18 May 2020.”

The ministry also made it clear that the earlier lockdown guidelines released on 25 March, 14 April and 1 May were directed by the National Disaster Management Authority, under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to National Executive Committee (NEC). 

This essentially means the earlier guidelines were issued by NEC but with a new guideline on Sunday, old ones cease to have an effect from 18 May.

North Block - Home Ministry

The 29 March notification had said, “All the employers, be it in the industry or the shops and commercial establishments, shall make payment of wages of their workers, at their workplaces, on the due date, without any deduction, for the period their establishments are under closure during the lockdown.”

It is not clear why such a step was taken by the ministry. No statement has been made in this regard thus far.

According to Bar and Bench, after the 29 March notification, several petitions were filed before the top court of the country against the said notification with one calling it "arbitrary, illegal and irrational."

Following this, last week, the SC had asked the government not to resort to any coercive action against private companies that couldn't pay their worker's full wages during the lockdown.

A three-judge Bench led by Justice L Nageswara Rao hinted that such a step may not be viable for small and private enterprises, which themselves are facing the brunt of the lockdown.

(With inputs from Bar and Bench)