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| Brief | FAQs |           THE MINIMUM WAGES ACT, 1948


 

What is the object of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948?: The object of the Act is to provide for fixing and revising minimum wages in certain employments in order to stop sweated labour and prevent the exploitation of unorganized labour.

 

Which employments are intended to be benefited by fixation of minimum rates of wages?: The Government is required to fix minimum rates of wages payable to employees employed in the employments specified in Part I or Part II of the Schedule appended to the Act. {Section 3}

 

Is the list of employments specified in the Schedule to the Act exhaustive?: The list is not an exhaustive one. The appropriate Government can add any employment to either part of the Schedule. {Section 27}

 

Is it competent for a government to bring a teacher within the purview of the Act by amending the Schedule to the Act?: A teacher would not come within the definition of "employee" given  under Section 2(i) of the Act. It is beyond the competence of a Government to bring the teachers of an educational institution under the purview of the Act.

 

Is the Act applicable to daily rated employees?: The Act is expected to fix the minimum wages in respect of employees whether they are casual, daily rated, temporary or permanent. The Act is applicable to daily rates employees also.

 

What is the procedure the Government has to follow for fixing and revising minimum wages?: The Government has to fix and revise minimum wages either-

  1. by appointing one or more committees and sub-committees consisting of representatives of employers and employees and also of independent persons to hold necessary enquiries and by taking into consideration the advice tendered by the committee or committees; or

  2. by formulating and publishing its proposals and taking into consideration the representations received in response to the proposals. {Section 5}

Is the task of the Government over once it fixes minimum rates of wages payable to employees employed in a scheduled employment?: The task of the Government is not over once it fixes minimum rates of wages payable to employees employed in a scheduled employment. The minimum rates of wages of fixed are required to be reviewed and, if necessary, revised by the Government at intervals not exceeding five years. {Section 3(1)(b)}

 

Is it permissible for the employer to pay minimum wages in kind?: As a rule minimum wages payable under the Act must be paid in cash. The employer, however, can pay them in kind with the permission of the appropriate Government. {Section 11}

 

Can attendance bonus be treated as part of the minimum wage fixed under the Act?: Attendance bonus is in the nature of an incentive. It is an additional payment made to the workmen as a means of increasing production. It cannot be treated as part of the minimum wage fixed under the Act.

 

Can the supply of essential commodities at concessional rates from part of the minimum wage?: Such supply cannot form part of the minimum wage unless it is authorized by the appropriate Government by a notification in the Official Gazette under section 11(3) of the Act.

 

What is the obligation of the employer in respect of payment of wages under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948?: Where minimum wages are fixed and enforced under section 5 of the act in respect of any employment covered by the Act, the employer is bound to pay to every employee engaged in that employment wages at a rate not less than the minimum rate to fixed and enforced. {Section 12}

 

Is an employer, who is not paying basic wages and cost of living allowance separately as fixed under the Act but who is paying wages more than prescribed minimum rates under the Act, committing any illegality?: The minimum rate of wages fixed under the Act is remuneration payable to the worker as one package of fixed amount, Neither the scheme of the Act nor any provision of the Act provides that the rate of minimum wages is to be split into basic wages and cost of living allowance and therefore where an employer is paying total sum which is higher than the minimum rate of wages fixed under the Act including cost of living allowance, the employer is not committing any illegality.

 

What is the number of hours which constitutes a normal working day for the employees covered by the Act?: A normal working day prescribed for the employees covered by the Act is of 9 hours. {Section 13 & Mah. Rule 24}

 

Are the employees covered by the Act entitled to overtime wages?: If an employee covered by the Act works for more than 9 hours on any day or 48 hours in any week, he is in respect of overtime work entitled to wages at double the ordinary rate of wages. {Section 14 & Mah. Rule 26}

 

Can an employee getting wages higher than the minimum wages fixed under the Act claim overtime wages under Section 20(2) of the Act?: Where an employee gets wages higher than the minimum wages fixed under the Act he cannot claim any benefit under the Act.

 

Can an Industrial Tribunal adjudicate upon a dispute relating to the fixation of wages of employees covered under the Act?: Section 24 of the Act does not bar the jurisdiction of an Industrial Tribunal to adjudicate upon a dispute relating to the fixation of wages of employees covered under the Act.

 

Can an Industrial Tribunal fix wages at rates higher than the rates of minimum wages fixed under the Minimum Wages Act?: An Industrial Tribunal adjudicating a dispute relating to wages is not bound by the minimum rates of wages fixed under the Minimum Wages Act and it is open to it to fix wages at rates higher than the rates of minimum wages fixed under the Act.

 

What is the position of the employer who is unable to pay minimum wages fixed under the Act?: The employer is bound pay minimum wages fixed under the Act and it is irrelevant whether he has the capacity to pay them or not.

 

What is the procedure the employee has to follow for making a claim under the Act?: The procedure for making a claim is as follows:

  1. An employee having any claim under the Act has to make an application to the Authority appointed under the Act.

  2. Such application can be made by the employee himself, or any legal practitioner or any official of a registered trade union.

  3. Such application has to be made within six months from the date on which the claim amount became payable.

  4. In appropriate case the Authority can, over and above directing the payment of the difference between minimum wages payable and wages actually paid, award compensation upto ten times the amount of the difference.

  5. The amount directed to be paid by the Authority can be recovered as if it were a fine imposed by a Magistrate.

  6. Every direction of the Authority will be final. {Section 20}

Are the employees of a Students' Hostel entitled to minimum rates of wages fixed for hotels and restaurants?: The intension of the Legislature was to include employment on hotels and restaurants under purview of the Minimum Wages Act. When the Legislature specifically omitted the term "Students' Hotels" in the Schedule, it thereby excludes it from the purview of the Minimum Wages Act.

 

Can the Authority appointed under the Act to decide the claims of the employees award compensation to the tune of ten times of the amount of the difference between  wages payable and wages actually paid, in every case?: The limit of "ten times the amount of such excess" mentioned in section 20(3)(i) of the Act is the maximum limit. When the Authority awards heavy compensation under the said section, it must give reasons for doing so.

 

Has an employee to pay any court-fee for making an application to the Authority?: In the State of Maharashtra an employee is exempted from paying any court-fee, other than the fee for service of process, for making such application; but at the same time the Government is empowered to recover the amount of such court-fee from the employer if the employee succeeds in the application. {Section 21A}

 

Can a group of employees make a single application for claiming minimum wages?: A single application can be made on behalf or in respect of any number of employees.

 

Is an employer required to maintain any register and record?: Every employer must maintain a muster-roll-cum-wage register and also a bound inspection book. {Rule 27 & 28}

 

What are the offences under the Act and what is the punishment for them?: If any employer -

  1. pays to any employee less than the minimum rates of wages fixed for that employees' class of work; or

  2. contravenes any rule or order made by the appropriate Government under Section 13 regarding hours of work;

he would be punished with imprisonment upto five years or with fine upto Rs. 10000.00 or with both. The offences under Section 22 of this Act shall be cognizable and non-bailable. {Section 22, 22B}

 

Is it permissible for an employee to recover minimum wages payable under the Act by filing a suit in a Civil Court?: The Act prohibits Civil Courts from entertaining any suit for recovery of minimum wages payable under the Act. {Section 24}

 

Is it permissible for an employee to relinquish his rights under the Act?: An employee is prohibited from contracting out of the Act, i.e. from giving up any of his rights under the Act and any contract or agreement made by him relinquishing or reducing his right to a minimum rate of wages or any privilege or concession accruing to him under the Act is null and void. {Section 25}

 


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