New Delhi : In a significant move to ensure payment of minimum wages, the Delhi government has proposed to increase the penalty for non-payment from Rs 500 to Rs 25,000-50,000 and the jail term to one to three years from the current six months.
To introduce the provision, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia tabled the Minimum Wages (Delhi) Amendment Bill 2017 in the assembly on Wednesday, the second day of the monsoon session. If the amendment to the Minimum Wages Act 1948 is passed and cleared, an errant employer will have to pay the penalty or face the imprisonment or both.
The government had first introduced this Bill in 2015. However, it couldn’t become a law amid the power tussle between the AAP government and the Centre. The Bill was returned by the Centre on the ground that that it was not sent as per procedure. The reworked draft has been tabled after obtaining the approval of lieutenant governor Anil Baijal.
As per the Delhi government’s March 3 notification, the minimum wages for unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled labour were fixed at Rs 13,350, Rs 14,698 and Rs 16,182, respectively. However months after increasing the amount, the government had felt that a tougher law was needed to ensure that workers actually received the revised wages.
The government has also proposed a change in the mode of payment. Instead of cash, it said, the wages should be directly transferred to the account of a worker either “electronically or by account payee cheques”.
Another significant proposal deals with fixing of wages. According to the Bill, while fixing the minimum wages, the government will have to take into “account the skill required, the arduousness of the work assigned to the worker, the cost of living of the worker and other such components”.
As per the statement of object and reason provided by the Delhi government while tabling the Bill, “In order to realistically examine and fix minimum rates of wages for different class/category of workers, all necessary components of wage determination” will have to be taken into account. These “shall include not only basic calorie needs of a workman but also holistically shall include food, shelter, clothing, education for children, medical needs and other social commitments”.
A new sub-section has also been included to prohibit the employers from terminating the services of a worker in case there is a pending proceeding or inquiry.
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