In a very significant move, the Prime Minister of India announced a 21 day national lockdown effective from 25th March 2020. This lockdown is to ensure effective social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While the lockdown is undoubtedly essential to contain the pandemic,the impact on businesses and the economy can’t be ignored.

Amid the national lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order directing that employers should pay wages to their workers at their place of work without deduction during the period of lockdown.

The order states, “All the employees, be it in the Industry or in the shops and commercial establishments, shall make payment of wages of their workers, at their work places, on the due date, without any deduction, for the period their establishments are under closure during the lockdown”

This order invokes power under section 10 (2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act 2005.

Let’s understand more about the provisions under this act:

1. In addition, Ministry of Labour& Employment, Government of India vide its letter dated 20.03.2020 has advised all the employers of Public / Private Establishments not to terminate their employees, particularly casual or contractual workers from job or reduce their wages.

2. If any worker takes leave, he should be deemed to be on duty without any consequential deduction in wages for this period.

3. Based on various advisories and orders issued by Central Government/ State Governments, the scope of payment of wages shall extend to regular, casual and contractual workers.

4. As per the MHA order, the wages are to be paid on the due date.

5. The employees can be encouraged to utilize their accrued annual / privilege. Availing leave is an employee’s prerogative and the employers cannot compel them to adjust accrued annualleave.

We all know that it is a difficult situation, but it is difficult for all. It is during times of crisis that we see true employers of choice emerging, Responsible corporate citizens who stand by their employees financially and emotionally.