Law Student, New Delhi


Minimum Wage controversy Delhi
In 2017 Delhi government hiked the minimum wages by 37% (The Minimum Wages (Delhi) Amendment Act, 2017) and in 2018 it launched a 10 day massive crackdown to ensure payment of minimum wages (Rs. 14000 pm) to all workers employed in any organization in Delhi. Teams were constituted to conduct raids at different locations and working premises to ensure compliance of the minimum wage requirement. This drive of Delhi government was challenged by the Employers and Industrial bodies (in Delhi High Court) who alleged lack of procedural requirement in the 37% hike in minimum wages by the Delhi government in 2017. HC in an interim order had quashed the government directive which was later reversed by the Supreme Court.

Certain Tips for Contract Laborers working at NLU-

TIP 1:- Check if you are entitled to Free Legal Aid

You are entitled to get free legal aid in India if you come under any of the following categories u/s 12 of the NLSA 1987-

  • A member of Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe; or
  • A victim of trafficking in human beings or beggar as referred in article 23 of the Constitution; or
  • A woman or a child; or
  • A person with disability as defined in clause (i) of section 2 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995; or
  • A person under circumstances of undeserved want such as being a victim of a mass disaster, ethnic violence, caste atrocity, flood, drought, earthquake or industrial disaster; or
  • An industrial workman; or
  • In custody, including custody in a protective home within the meaning of clause (g) of section 2 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, or in a Juvenile home within the meaning of clause (j) of section 2 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986, or in a psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home within the meaning clause (g) of section 2 of the Mental Health Act, 1987; or
  • In receipt of annual income less than rupees nine thousand or such other higher amount as may be prescribed by the State Government, if the case is before a court other than the Supreme Court, and less than rupees twelve thousand or such other higher amount as may be prescribed by the Central Government, if the case is before the Supreme Court.

TIP 2:- Are you getting your salary via Bank account?

  • Under a scheme of the Delhi government, workers are supposed to get minimum wages directly into their bank account.
  • Caution:- It has been observed in certain cases that the employers do send the minimum wages in workers bank account but next day they ask them to return certain amount. When confronted they reply that they are taking/keeping it as a security.
  • In such cases, workmen should raise complain to the Labour commission collectively.
  • Workers are entitled to more wages for extra working hours. Contact the legal Aid clinic if you are not getting paid for working overtime.

TIP 3:- Do you have proper documentation of your employment?

  • Ensure you get proper employment letter and keep it safe.
  • Ensure you keep a record of everything relating to your employment and working conditions.

TIP 4:- Taking cognizance of Sexual harassment?

  • Know about what constitute sexual harassment. Contact Legal Aid Clinic for more information on this issue.
  • If any such incident occurs (even if minute), put it on WhatsApp group and discuss it with fellow workers in order to have a record of it which can be utilized later.

TIP 5:- Termination of Employment?

  • Inquiry before termination of employment is necessary.
  • Principles of Natural Justice has to be compulsorily followed.
  • The employee concerned has right to be heard.
  • 3 months notice requirement.
  • An employees deserves compensation in case of illegal termination.
  • If there are more than 100 workers in an entity, then the employer cannot terminate without the prior approval of the concerned government.

TIP 6:- Be careful of unfair Labour practices?

  • Employer cannot discriminate arbitrarily and especially on grounds prohibited in the constitution such as gender, caste, race, religion, etc.
  • S.25U and S.25T r/w Schedule 5 of Industrial Dispute Act talk about such practices.
  • Employer cannot exploit the workers using his dominant position.
  • Industrial practice should be uniform. Principle Employer cannot treat workers differently.

TIP 7:- Getting Bonus, EPF and Gratuity?

  • In certain situations these can be a matter of right.
  • Bonus– certain amount from the profit of the company has to be paid to workers. These days there is a requirement of statutory bonus (8.33%) which has to be paid regardless of profit or loss.
  • Bonus is to be paid by the contractor and not the principle employer.
  • Customary bonus– It has noting to do with profit or loss of the company.
  • Contract Labour Act provisions- If the contractor is not paying, then there is a liability on the principle employer to pay wages to workers.
  • Example– The Security Guard company providing security guards for NLU is not registered under the Contract labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act 1970 . Ideally the NLU should not have engaged with such contractor whose firm is not registered. However liability can be attached to the NLU as well in certain cases.
  • Minimum 5 year work necessary for gratuity.
  • Yearly Gratuity calculation method- Minimum 5 year work is necessary to be entitled for gratuity payment. Salary at the end of employment shall be divided by 26 and multiplied by 15. This shall be paid yearly.
  • Provident Fund is now transferable.

TIP 8:- Agreement between workers and employers?

  • Be careful of sham and bogus of contracts.
  • Agreement between the Contractor and the Workmen or between the Principle Employer and the Contractor cannot be against the law.

TIP 9:- How to raise an industrial dispute?

  • Industrial dispute can be raised by workers before the labour commission.
  • Generally workers approach Trade Unions which espouses the cause of the worker by raising charter of demands to Employer.

TIP 10:- Are you an employee of the Contractor or the Principle Employer?

  • As per law, you are an employee of the Contractor and not the Principle Employer (NLU).

Certain Observations:-

  • Employees/workers (including security guards, housekeeping staff and mess workers) who attended the conference did not look much satisfied.
  • They were disunited on certain issues like bonuses, gratuities, deduction of wages, etc.
  • They had lots of questions and were not given proper time and opportunity to raise them in front of the speaker.
  • There was a certain degree of communication gap between the speaker and employees.
  • Employees were frank with their issues and they looked confident but concerned.

Click here to read this in Hindi.

With Peace and Warm Regards!

Note:- Based on a Labour Rights Workshop on April 16, 2019 New Delhi

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