Govt. Clarifications on Media Reports about ‘Code on Wages Bill 2017’

Govt. Clarifies about Developments and Issues/ Media Reports relating to ‘Code on Wages Bill 2017’

Govt. has issued a Press Release to clarify developments and issues/ media reports relating to ‘Code on Wages Bill 2017’, including on issues like fixation of national minimum wages at Rs. 18,000 p.m. by Central Govt., methodology for calculation of minimum wages, proposed payment of wages through cheque or digital modes, etc., as under:

GoI Press Release dt. 5 Sept. 2017

As part of labour law reforms, the Government has undertaken the exercise of rationalisation of the 38 Labour Acts by framing 4 labour codes viz Code on Wages, Code on Industrial Relations, Code on Social Security and Code on occupational safety, health and working conditions.

1. The Code on Wages Bill 2017 has been introduced in Lok Sabha on 10.08.2017 and it subsumes 4 existing Laws, viz. the Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Payment of Wages Act, 1936; the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965; and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. After the enactment of the Code on Wages, all these four Acts will get repealed. The Codification of the Labour Laws will remove the multiplicity of definitions and authorities leading to ease of compliance without compromising wage security and social security to the workers.

2. At present, the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act and the Payment of Wages Act do not cover substantial number of workers, as the applicability of both these Acts is restricted to the Scheduled Employments/ Establishments. However, the new Code on Wages will ensure minimum wages to one and all and timely payment of wages to all employees irrespective of the sector of employment without any wage ceiling.

3. A concept of statutory National Minimum Wage for different geographical areas has been introduced. It will ensure that no State Government fixes the minimum wage below the National Minimum Wages for that particular area as notified by the Central Government.

4. The proposed payment of wages through cheque or digital/ electronic mode would not only promote digitization but also extend wage and social security to the worker. Provision of an Appellate Authority has been made between the Claim Authority and the Judicial Forum which will lead to speedy, cheaper and efficient redressal of grievances and settlement of claims.

5. Penalties for different types of violations under this Code have been rationalized with the amount of fines varying as per the gravity of violations and repeat of the offences. Provision of compounding of offences has been made for those which are not punishable by a penalty of imprisonment.

6. Recently, some news reports have been published regarding the fixation of minimum wage as Rs. 18000/- per month by the Central Government. It is clarified that the Central Government has not fixed or mentioned any amount as “national minimum wage” in the Code on Wages Bill 2017. The apprehension that minimum wage of Rs. 18000/- per month has been fixed for all employees is, thus incorrect, false and baseless. The minimum wages will vary from place to place depending upon skill required, arduousness of the work assigned and geographical location.

7. Further, the Code on Wages Bill 2017, in the clause 9 (3), clearly states that the Central Government, before fixing the national minimum wage, may obtain the advice of the Central Advisory Board, having representatives from employers and employees. Therefore the Code provide for a consultative mechanism before determining the national minimum wage.

8. Some reports have also been appearing in the media regarding the revised methodology for calculation of minimum wages by enhancing the units from three to six. It was purely a demand raised by Trade Unions in the recent meeting of the Central Advisory Board on Minimum Wages. However it is clarified that such proposal is not part of the Code on Wages Bill.

Govt. working on Proposal for Universal Minimum Wage for workers (Wage Code Bill 2017): News dt. 6 June 2017

Reportedly, the Central Govt. is working on a proposal to introduce Wage Code Bill 2017, in the forthcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament, to introduce law on Universal Minimum Wages applicable for all industries and workers, across India, including for workers those who are getting monthly salary above Rs 18,000.

The proposed Wage Code Bill 2017 with such pro-worker provisions is likely to be discussed in the Cabinet this month, as the same has already been cleared by the Ministerial Panel on Labour Issues and has been sent to Law Ministry for vetting, as per News Paper reports (Business Standard dt. 6 June 2017).

The Wage Code Bill 2017 will empower the Centre to determine and review minimum wage across all sectors and states, from time to time. However, the States will be given liberty to determine higher minimum wage than those fixed by the central government, as per circumstances.

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