The Ministry of Labour and Employment has issued advisories to employers to not terminate their employees from their jobs or reduce their wages.
At a time when the government has initiated lockdown in several cities to restrict the movement of citizens outside their home, the salaried employees are in a fix. For those employees who are unable to join office or report to work, are concerned about whether their pay will be cut or will they get terminated from work. A recent advisory by the Ministry of Labour and Employment to all public and private employers to support their employees and workers will come as a relief for them.
The Ministry of Finance has also issued an Office Memorandum in this regard as due to social distancing and isolation measures to contain the spread of COVID 19, there is a likelihood of a number of contractual labour and outsourced staff working for the government of India being unable to attend work, resulting in a deduction in wages, thus causing hardship to them.
The OM states that wherever such contractual, the casual and outsourced staff of ministries and departments and other organization of government is required to stay at home in view of lockdown order regarding Covid 19 prevention, they shall be treated as ‘on duty’ during such period of absence and necessary pay or wages would be paid accordingly. These instructions shall apply until April 30, 2020.
Although some state governments have even asked for keeping certain private establishment shut till March 31, there could be cases where employees may be asked by employers to report on duty. This could be true especially in the case of those employees who could not work from home owing to the nature of their work.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment has issued advisories to public and private employers and establishments to not terminate their employees, particularly casual or contractual employees, from their jobs or reduce their wages.
The letter states that the catastrophic situation due to the outbreak of Covid 19 is a challenge to the society and these challenges can only be neutralized by the coordinated efforts of all.
The advisory states that in view of the Covid 19 pandemic and the consistent efforts of the government requesting the citizen to remain at home and not venture out, will constraint the worker or the employee to report for work.
There may be instances that on this pretext, the employer may dispense with the services of the employees or may force them to go on leave without wages or salaries.
As per the advisory, if any worker takes leave, he or she should be deemed to be on duty without any consequential deduction in wages for this period. Further, if the place of employment is to be made non-operational due to Covid 19, the employees of such unit will be deemed to be on duty.
The advisory also realizes that the termination of the employee from the job or reduction in wages in this scenario will further deepen the crises and will not only weaken the financial condition of the employee but also hamper their morale to combat their fight with this epidemic.