SC Denies Relief For MSMEs Against Payment Of Wages

The petition challenged MHA order which prohibits salary deductions during lockdown

The petitioner sought permission to pay only 30% to employees as their business is shut

The plea specified that govt should take care of the rest with the funds collected

The Supreme Court on May 8, turned down the plea of 11 Haryana-based micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to provide interim protection against the order which required them to pay full salaries to its employees.

The petition, filed by the MSMEs, challenged the advisory issues by the Union ministry of labour and employment on March 20 and the order issued by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) on March 20.

The MHA order has specified that the “employers, be it in the industry or in the shops and commercial establishments,” will have to pay the wages of their workers without any delay and deductions for the period the establishments are under closure during the lockdown.

The ministry had also directed all state and union territories to ensure that the order was being implemented, and take action if it was violated. The petitioners highlighted that they have not been able to conduct their business because of the national lockdown, and the order has put them in mental and financial pressure.

The petition also stated that such orders are a violation of the provisions of the constitution. Therefore, they sought permission to pay 70% less salary to their employees, arguing that the government should take care of the rest from the fund collected by the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation, the PM Cares Fund or any other fund.

The MSME petition was tagged with a similar case involving a Bengaluru-based packaging company Ficus Pax P Ltd. The SC has directed the government to file its reply to the case before May 15, when the court has scheduled the next hearing.

Meanwhile, the Pune labour commissioner ‘s office has recently issued a notice to technology giant Wipro for benching close to 300 employees, and deducting salaries of an undisclosed number of entry level staffers, mostly BPO employees. The notice, which was sent to Wipro on May 1, the department referred to the March 31 order and advised the company to refrain from such layoffs or face legal action.

To this, the company has clarified that it hasn’t received any such notice yet, and would present them with facts when required, Wipro also told TOI, “The speculation related to the workforce is unfounded and has no basis. Wipro categorically denies these rumours. There are no salary cuts for employees who are in between projects and are awaiting assignments.” It also reiterated that there are no retrenchment plans.

Meanwhile, the National Information Technology Employees Senate (NITES), a union which filed the complaint against Wipro on behalf of its employees, highlighted that the policy of the company is to put employees on bend, and force them to resign or terminate them forcefully after two to three months, stating that they are incapable of handling new projects.

Pune labour department had also written to technology company Capgemini in mid-April over its decision to bench employees with forced unpaid leaves.

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Written by Kritti Bhalla


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