It’s been more than a month since businesses are forced to halt operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping this in mind, the Center has quashed the March 29 order that asked the employers to pay wages to the employees irrespective of their presence in the workplace.
The companies which are closed and where the workers are unable to operate during the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic are no more required to pay mandatory wages to the employees. This move by the Center will be a major relief for employers. The employers demanded that either the government offer them a wage stimulus or not mandate payment of wages during the lockdown.
Along with this, the order preventing landlords from demanding rent during the lockdown has also been withdrawn. According to the guidelines issued by the Home Minister on Sunday i.e. 17th March 2020 for lockdown 4.0, the orders except for Six Standard Operating Procedures for People’s Movement in defined conditions have been withdrawn. The order said, “Save as otherwise provided in the guidelines annexed to this order, all order issued by the NEC (national executive committee) under Section 10(2)(I) of the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005, shall cease to affect 18.05.2020”.
The March 29 order which had mandated the payment of wages by employers had read - “ All the employers, be it in the shops and commercial establishment, shall make payment of wages of their workers, at their workplace, on the due date, without any deduction, for the period their establishment is under closure during the lockdown."
The same order also stated that it the duty of the State to take care of the necessities of an individual. The State will ensure adequate arrangements of temporary shelters and food for the poor and needy people including migrant laborers. Some employers challenged the constitutionality of the March 29 order in the apex court. The Supreme Court had asked the Government not to take coercive action against private companies who are not paying wages during the lockdown. Ever since the lockdown, industries and their federations have been demanding wage stimulus from the Government. Earlier the Ministry of Labour and Employment also asked the employers not to cut salaries or let go, people. Earlier this month, during a meeting with Labour Secretary of FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry), had requested a 50% wage subsidy and said that in the absence of such relief they may let go some of the workers due to business loss during the lockdown period.