Uttarakhand: HC issues notice to state health department on non-payment of bonus to National Health Mission (NHM) workers
15 May 2019: The Uttarakhand High Court has issued notice to the state health department on the matter of non-payment of loyalty bonus to 2500 contract health workers. Loyalty bonus was introduced by the government in 2017-18 whereby workers in continuous employment of over 3 years and 5 years are entitled to bonus at 10% and 15% of their basic pay respectively. Centre contributes 90% while state pays 10% towards the loyalty bonus of NHM workers. There are 1200 NHM workers in current employment with more than 5 years of continuous service. The High Court has sought a reply from the health department within 4 weeks regarding the undue delay in payment of bonus.
Delhi: High Court issues notice for recognition of Domestic workers’ union
30 April 2019: Affirming domestic worker’s right to unionise, the Delhi High Court in response to writ filed by the Delhi Domestic Workers Union, issued a notice to the Delhi government and Labour Department. Justice Midha said “there is need for government to provide safeguards to workers of the unorganised sector and recognise the right of the vulnerable for organising and collective bargaining.” Since 2016, several applications for recognition, latest of which was filed on 24 January 2019 were rejected by the Delhi government on grounds that domestic workers are not workmen under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
Supreme Court: Skill categorisation of workers on the basis of experience is beyond government’s jurisdiction
30 April 2019: The Supreme Court in Hindustan Sanitaryware & Industries Ltd. vs. State of Haryana, overruled a judgment by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The SC held that the notification issued by the Labour Department of Haryana which linked the worker’s experience with classification as unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled, is beyond government’s jurisdiction and contravenes the contract between employer and employee.
The Apex Court held that the Minimum Wages Act does not empower government to alter terms of contract. The Act only confers jurisdiction to government to revise the minimum rate of wages notwithstanding the contract. The SC also directed that incase of trainees, determination of the training period is also beyond government’s purview and ruled against the notification’s prohibition on segregating wages into components like allowances. However, the SC observed that employers are not entitled to retrieve any amount paid already to workers as per the notification.
Uttar Pradesh: Honorarium workers are entitled to maternity benefits, rules High Court
24 April 2019: The Allahabad High Court in Anshu Rani vs. State of Uttar Pradesh held that women employed as contractual and honorarium workers are entitled to 6 months of maternity benefits as per the Maternity Benefits (Amendments) Act, 2017. The court directed that the petitioner, employed as an Anudeshak (instructor) at the education department in Bijnor, be provided 6 months of maternity leave with honorarium for the said period as opposed to 3 months of maternity leave that was sanctioned by the District Basic Education Officer, Bijnor.
Karnataka: High Court upholds hike in minimum wages
18 April 2019: The Karnataka High Court upheld 20 minimum wage notifications issued by the Labour Department of Karnataka between December 2016 and December 2017 for increasing minimum wages in privately owned industries across 34 sectors in Karnataka. Employers were directed to pay back wages to workers within 6 weeks of the order with interest at 6% per annum.
A petition was filed with the HC by the Karnataka State Small Scale Industries Association (KASSIA), the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and several private companies challenging the notifications when they were issued by the labour department. The notifications apply to industries like automobile engineering (service and repair), shops and establishments, ceramic, stoneware and potteries, printing industries, hospitality services, private schools, colleges, construction, garment and textile industries, chemical industries, plantations, oil mills, confectionaries and other industries.