he President gave his consent to amendments to the Minimum Wages Act on Thursday, proposed by the Delhi Government. The new law sets a fine of Rs 20,000 – Rs 50,000 and a jail term of 1-3 years for employers violating Minimum Wages ( Delhi) Amendments Act 2017.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal made the following tweet after the Act was given president’s consent:
Finally, Central Govt gives its approval after several months. This will act as a strong deterrent against those employers who do not pay full min wages. Del govt will take strong action against such people.
Here is the full background of the law.
The Minimum Wages Act was first passed in 1948 to provide basic incomes for workers in the organised sector.
The Act empowered the employees by setting working hours per week at 48 and 9 per day with one hour of rest. Also, if a worker works more than 9 hours per day, he/she is entitled to twice the pay for those extra hours.
The Act gave powers to State Government for setting up minimum wages except in cases where Central Government was giving the contract for work.
The violation of the Act resulted previously in a fine of Rs 500 or a jail term of 6 months or both.
The amendments to increase punishment for non-payment and other offences was first tabled as a bill by the Delhi Government on 3 December 2015.
The Centre then suggested some changes to the bill, including the definition of Delhi Government, after which AAP government again passed The Minimum Wages (Delhi) Amendments Act, 2017, in August last year.
Finally, on May 8, 2018, the President gave his assent to the Act.
The Act has increased the punishment for failure to pay minimum wages has been increased from Rs 500 to Rs 50,000 and a jail term of 6 months to 3 years.
For other offences, the fine was increased from Rs 500 to Rs 20,000 and 1-year imprisonment.
The Amendment has also specifically mentioned, “not less than two times of the normal rate of wages fixed under this Act or any law of the appropriate government for the time being in force, whichever is higher”.
Further, the AAP Government last year had hiked minimum wages for unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled and graduated and above category workers to Rs 13,584, Rs 14,958, Rs 16,468 and Rs 17,916 respectively from Rs 9,724, Rs 10,764, Rs 11,830 and Rs 12,870 respectively.
On July 1, 2017, the labour ministry announced the hike in the National Floor Level Minimum Wage from Rs 160 to Rs 176 a day.
Minimum Wages In Other States
A look at minimum wages across states sets the National Capital apart. Andaman and Nicobar have set the minimum wages at Rs 322 for unskilled agricultural scheduled employment which amounts to approximately, Rs 9660 per month. Himachal Pradesh sets a meagre amount of Rs 211 per day for the same, amounting to Rs 6330 per month. Lastly, Odisha has set Rs 90 for the unskilled agricultural worker, which is again very minimal.
The overall scenario reflects a bleak picture. The move by the Delhi Government is a welcome step for the labour class and should be echoed by other states.