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Saturday, 23 May 2020

PF Statutory Rate Reduction – An Overall Perspective

The recent notification from the central government regarding the reduction of PF contributions has had significant impact to employers and employees. The initiative, which is part of the recently announced Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan intends to provide relief to over 4 crore employees.

What the amendment offers
Vide notification No. 1513 released on 18th May 2020, the Central government revised the PF rates from 12 percent to 10 percent. This computation is calculated on the basic wages and dearness allowance. The amendment has been effected keeping in mind the current situation and the lack of liquidity for employees and employers. It is applicable only for the months of May, June and July 2020.

How this finds application
While the amount has been reduced from 12 to 10 percent, there is a lot of flexibility that it offers. The minimum amount required to be remitted by both employer and employee is 10%. However, they may decide to contribute up to as much as 12% towards the PF fund. This allows employees a greater take-home in terms of salary, and a relief of 2% per employee for employers.

Who this applies to
The amendment covers all establishments under the EPF & MP Act. It is also extended to all exempted establishments. Those who are NOT covered under this are:
  •      Classes which received an extension on 10 percent contribution through the 1997 amendment including:

1.       Establishments with under 20 employees
2.       Sick industrial units
3.       Establishments whose losses at the end of the financial year equals or exceeds its total net worth
4.       Establishments in jute, beedi, brick, coir and guar gum industries
  •      Central and state public sector enterprises
  •      Establishments obtaining relief from the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana

Other significant aspects
There are several other important aspects involved. Here are some pointers that may guide you better:
·         Administrative charges for EPF and EDLI contributions remain the same, and applicable
·         The remittances must be made through the ECR as usual
·         Pension contributions and benefits will continue to remain the same
·         Regardless of date of payment, the reduced rates of contributions for the said months will remain effective
·         Establishments under PMRPY can also avail reduced rates for contribution

The official gazetted notification may be viewed at

Sunday, 17 May 2020

State Governments Order Changes in Labour Laws – What Stands to be Gained and Lost

The world is dealing with a pandemic of unimaginable proportions. While countries are struggling with curbing its spread, they are also battling to ensure the healthy have a chance at life. However, governments are trying to set in place measures to ensure human welfare is the greatest priority.
Our government mandated the payment of wages for every employee. They also laid down guidelines to ensure employees retained their jobs and were not penalised in any way even while working from home. As the duration of the lockdown continued and employers lobbied heavily against the directive, the Supreme Court has now ruled that employers can face no prosecution for non-payment of wages. The matter is still waiting for a final authorisation from the central government.  

The dilemma between protecting the employee and safeguarding industries is getting more serious. As companies are facing the growing realities of bankruptcy, economic slowdown and absence of immediate relief, times are getting more desperate.

Several states have taken on the onus of instituting reforms in order to protect their industries and bring about a revival of some sorts. Many states have made relatively small changes to the number of working hours, intervals of rest and payment of overtime. Some significantly larger changes have been instrumented in the states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

Many opine that these changes are backed by a clear political agenda. Others view it as an opportunity of diverting business from China to India. Whether as an incentive to bring about economic resurgence or simply a measure to save the industry from impending doom, the question of intent cannot be ignored. Are these really measures that will give the economy impetus? Is this the right time to clip the wings of employees? Are we creating more opportunity or just taking away existing ones?

Here are some of the most major changes witnessed in the country so far.

  • All new establishments need only adhere to the following laws – Minimum Wages Act, Industrial Safety Rules and Employees Compensation Act.
  • The government has also facilitated the process of setting up industries and new businesses. Over 30,000 hectares of land have been set aside, and will be available within 7 days of application.
  • All approvals will be sanctioned online within 15 days. Special benefits will be made available for 1,200 days
Madhya Pradesh
Following a host of exemptions, the most important revisions include:
  •       Hiring for establishments with up to 100 employees according to their needs. Registration for contractors with below 50 labourers has been withdrawn
  •           Inspections have been mandated once in three months, with inspections waived off for factories with under 50 workers. Third party inspections have been sanctioned
  •      Registrations and licenses will be available within a day. Factory licence renewals need to be made once in 10 years. There will only be a one-time legislation with no renewals for start-ups
  •      Shift durations have been raised from 8 to 12 hours. Overtime permissible for up to 72 hours. Shops have permission to remain open from 6am to midnight 

-       Uttar Pradesh
The state has revoked all labour laws through the Temporary Exemption from Certain Labour Laws Ordinance 2020. This will apply for the next three years. The only acts that continue to be relevant include:
  •      Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996
  •         Workmen Compensation Act, 1923 
  •      Bonded Labour System (Abolition Act), 1976
  •      Section 5 of Payment of Wages Act, which deals with timely disbursement of wages for various employees including cases of termination

-       Government perspective
Along with giving added incentives to set up new industries and boost the economy, there is optimism in the government that the flexibility is warranted. They also seem to feel that a state of healthy competition will be promoted among states allowing for better standards and greater reform.

Business Perspective
Those setting up businesses are truly beginning from a position of power. The current scenario allows employers to hire and fire at will. Intervention from the government and inspections is reduced to being almost non-existent. The role of unions has been made redundant.

The Employee Angle
What is perhaps most impacting is the human angle. Here are some things employees across these states stand to lose:
  •           Neglect of health and safety: Amendments do not make it necessary for companies to conform to norms on working conditions. This includes waste disposal, drinking water, canteens, urinals, cleanliness, ventilation, lighting, crèches, restrooms,  or the reporting of employees with occupational diseases
  •       Compromised working hours and wages during leave period. Denial of simple entitlements like leave and overtime
  •       Disguised unemployment: There is little job security. Although the move is aimed heavily at creating more jobs and generating employment, they have also created avenues for employers to fire people and hire them for significantly less pay. This is a far cry from the appeal of the government to companies to pay employees wages in full. Social security of employees has also reduced significantly as most employees will be converted into casual labour
  •       Absence of redressal mechanisms: Labour stands to lose the power to form unions. They have no machinery to voice grievances, and have no opportunity to voice their case in the event of dismissal for misconduct. Welfare facilities have been abolished and there is no scope to raise industrial disputes. There is no protection from layoff, lockout, retrenchment or strikes

Friday, 17 April 2020

Covid-19: Guidelines for Working Establishments Following 20th April Relaxation

The Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi announced an extension of the lockdown till 3rd May, 2020. He however, assured the public that there would be a relaxation and certain commercial entities would be allowed to function with stipulated restrictions. An official document outlining the guidelines and observances was released soon after. While there were several factors included in the document, this article focuses on the directives and SOP’s issued to management of establishments functioning from 20th April.

Measures for Special Care

The government has advised that individuals above 65 with co-morbidities be made to work from home. In manufacturing facilities, repeated re-enforcement of hygiene practices must be made.

Mandatory observances at all official premises working from 20th April include:

Logistic Arrangements
·         Provision of transport facilities for all those coming to and leaving work from outside. The responsibility of providing transport rests with the employer. Vehicles must work at a maximum of 30 to 40% capacity
·        All vehicles and machinery entering the premises must be disinfected before they are allowed beyond the entry gate

  • Anyone entering and leaving the premises must undergo mandatory thermal scanning first
  • All non-essential visitors must be banned from entering
·         Entrance, canteen, cafeteria, meeting rooms, open areas, conference rooms, bunkers, cabins and building spaces must be disinfected thoroughly
·         Hand sanitizer must be stocked adequately and made available at all entry and exit points, and all public places
·         Workspace must be sanitized between shifts. Common surfaces to be cleaned frequently and thoroughly
·         Spitting, tobacco and gutka to be strictly banned

Social Distancing Measures
·         Staggering of lunch timings to ensure social distancing
·         A minimum gap of 1 hour to be maintained between shifts
·         Maximum of 2 to 4 people to travel together in hoists and lifts  
·         Use of staircase to be encouraged
·         Discourage gathering of over 10 people
·         Ensure a minimum distance of 6 feet between people during training and meetings

·         Mandatory insurance for all workers
·         Make available list of all nearby hospitals and clinics authorized to treat Covid-19

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Demystifying the Wage Code

The Wage Code finally saw light of day, as it was passed in July 2019. After the lapse of its first iteration in 2017, modifications suggesting by the Standing Committee were taken into consideration, as were the opinions of industry experts, organisations and some trade unions.

This is the first of four proposed codes which now enjoys place as an Act. The new Code on Wages looks to unify the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, Payment of Wages Act, 1936, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. This move is an attempt to simplify and consolidate regulations and help keep them uniformly implementable. Let us try and understand the key areas of impact under the Wage Code:

Employer and Employee
The wage code has redefined the terms employer and employee as under: -
-          "employee" means, any person (other than an apprentice engaged under the Apprentices Act, 1961), employed on wages by an establishment to do any skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled, manual, operational, supervisory, managerial, administrative, technical or clerical work for hire or reward, whether the terms of employment be express or implied, and also includes a person declared to be an employee by the appropriate Government, but does not include any member of the Armed Forces of the Union
-          "employer" means a person who employs, whether directly or through any person, or on his behalf or on behalf of any person, one or more employees in his establishment and where the establishment is carried on by any department of the Central Government or the State Government, the authority specified, by the head of such department, in this behalf or where no authority, is so specified the head of the department and in relation to an establishment carried on by a local authority, the chief executive of that authority, and includes,—
(i) in relation to an establishment which is a factory, the occupier of the factory as defined in clause (n) of section 2 of the Factories Act, 1948 and, where a person has been named as a manager of the factory under clause (f) of sub-section (1) of section 7 of the said Act, the person so named;
(ii) in relation to any other establishment, the person who, or the authority which, has ultimate control over the affairs of the establishment and where the said affairs is entrusted to a manager or managing director, such manager or managing director;
(iii) contractor; and
(iv) legal representative of a deceased employer;

There are two major aspects that are covered through the altered definitions of employer and employee, which include:
(a)    The regulations now being applicable across both the private and public sectors
(b)   Only specially exempted(armed forces and apprentices under the Apprentice Act) are excluded from the defined scope of employer and employee; and all other employees, employers and establishments fall under its scope with regard to the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act and the Payment of Wages Act
The Code aims at unifying the term ‘wages’ so as to reduce ambiguity and inconsistency. In the code, wages have been defined as:
"wages" means all remuneration whether by way of salaries, allowances or otherwise, expressed in terms of money or capable of being so expressed which would, if the terms of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled, be payable to a person employed in respect of his employment or of work done in such employment, and includes,—
(i)                  basic pay;
(ii)                dearness allowance; and
(iii)               retaining allowance, if any, but does not include––
(a) any bonus payable under any law for the time being in force, which does not form part of the remuneration payable under the terms of employment;
(b) the value of any house-accommodation, or of the supply of light, water, medical attendance or other amenity or of any service excluded from the computation of wages by a general or special order of the appropriate Government;
(c) any contribution paid by the employer to any pension or provident fund, and the interest which may have accrued thereon;
(d) any conveyance allowance or the value of any travelling concession;
(e) any sum paid to the employed person to defray special expenses entailed on him by the nature of his employment;
(f) house rent allowance;
 (g) remuneration payable under any award or settlement between the parties or order of a court or Tribunal;
(h) any overtime allowance;
(i) any commission payable to the employee;
(j) any gratuity payable on the termination of employment;
(k) any retrenchment compensation or other retirement benefit payable to the employee or any ex gratia payment made to him on the termination of employment: Provided that, for calculating the wages under this clause, if payments made by the employer to the employee under clauses (a) to (i) exceeds one-half, or such other per cent. as may be notified by the Central Government, of the all remuneration calculated under this clause, the amount which exceeds such one-half, or the per cent. so notified, shall be deemed as remuneration and shall be accordingly added in wages under this clause: Provided further that for the purpose of equal wages to all genders and for the purpose of payment of wages, the emoluments specified in clauses (d), (f), (g) and (h) shall be taken for computation of wage.
Explanation.––Where an employee is given in lieu of the whole or part of the wages payable to him, any remuneration in kind by his employer, the value of such remuneration in kind which does not exceed fifteen per cent. of the total wages payable to him, shall be deemed to form part of the wages of such employee

There are now three components of wages:
1.       inclusions – basic pay, dearness allowance, retaining allowance
2.       specific exclusions – statutory bonus, house accommodation, utilities, conveyance and travel allowance,  overtime, settlements, retrenchment compensation, special work expenses, PF and pension contribution
3.       conditions pertaining to the quantum of exclusions - These exclusions may NOT add up to over 50 percent of total remuneration. In the event that does exceed, the excess will be considered wages. This is a measure to ensure companies do not formulate structures where wages are less than 50 percent of total remuneration)

Minimum Wages
The following pointers have been instated with respect to minimum wages of states:
-          basis the standard of living within the geography, a national floor rate for wages will be set by the central government
-          Minimum wages will be retained in states where the rates are higher than the floor wages
-          State governments may fix their minimum wages, provided it is not lower than the floor wage rate
-          Wages for overtime may not be less than twice the normal wage rate
-          Minimum wages will be reviewed at periods not exceeding five years

Payment of Bonus
There is now no ceiling on the bonus payable unless notified by the respective State governments. This is opposed to the current ceiling of Rs. 21,000

Equal Pay
Equal remuneration will be given for work, regardless of gender, and there shall be no discrimination

Payment of wages
-          As against the earlier mandate of settling wages on the 10th of every succeeding month, the settlement has now been ordered on the 7th of every succeeding month
-          In the case of resignation, termination, dismissal or retrenchment due to closure of establishment, wages must be released within two working days
-          The limitation period for filing bonuses, claims, equal remuneration and minimum wages has been extended to three years. The earlier window was between 6 months and 2 years

-          The onus of proving compliance with respect to number of days worked, provision of appointment letter etc. now rests with employer. This was earlier the responsibility of the employee
-          Relief to Principal Employer: The Principal Employer is not liable in the Contractor has not been compliant. This is provided he has complied with all necessary provisions and has made all due payments to the Contractor
-          Inspections:  The appointment of inspectors to carry out inspections. Inspectors to advise and guide on better compliance. Maximum penalty of three months and/or fine upto Rs. 1,00,000 for non-compliance

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

The Transgender Persons Act, 2019

Acts and laws in India have constantly undergone amendment and been upgraded in keeping with the times. Whether in an attempt to be paperless and avoid duplication of work, or in trying to facilitate ease of work for all members through provision, protection and inclusion, the intent of labour law acts and rules has always been aimed at employee welfare.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 has set in place a framework to help recognise, include and safeguard transgenders as individuals and professionals. Here are some of its key mandates:

  • Definitions: 

- The act clearly defines transgenders as ‘a person whose gender does not match with the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-man or trans-woman (whether or not such person has undergone Sex Reassignment Surgery or hormone therapy or laser therapy or such other therapy), person with intersex variations, gender queer and person having such socio-cultural identities as kinner, hijra, aravani and jogta.’
- Some other important aspects defined include inclusive education, National council (for transgender persons), and person with intersex variations

  • Prohibition against discrimination:

The Act clearly prohibits discrimination against transgenders – whether in education, employment, healthcare, use of facilities and services, movement, purchase of property, or in holding public or private office

  • Recognition of identity of transgenders:
This includes:
- The right to self-perceived identity
- Application and issuance of certificate of identity
- Guidelines for change of gender

  • Obligations:

- Obligations for welfare by government, including grants by the central government
- Obligations of establishments
- Right to residence
-Mechanism for redressal of grievances

  • National Council for Transgender persons:

- Composition of the council
- Powers and functions
- Term of officers
- Monitoring, reviewing and redressal by the council

The complete Act, its scope and extent, and applicability may be viewed and printed on

Monday, 6 January 2020

Amendment to Employees Compensation Act - Details and Implications

A significantly important amendment has been effected in the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923 which is set to make a big impact.
The amendment, which was published on 3rd January, 2020, has revised the monthly wage amount from Rs. 8000 to Rs.15000. While it may seem like a minor change in the number alone, the implication is both important and far –fetching. Here is what the implications of the changed wage are:
  •         Compensation calculated on the revised wage of Rs.15,000 against the previous Rs. 8,000
  •          Death benefits and permanent total disablement benefits will now be consequently higher due to this change

Benefits Available under Revised Rule:
Following the change to wages, here are the freshly calculated benefit amounts available to employees:

WHERE WAGE IS LESS THAN Rs. 15000 per month:
Death benefit:
Minimum – Rs. 1,20,000
Maximum – Rs. 17,14,050
Permanent Disablement Benefit:
Minimum – Rs. 1,40,000
Maximum - Rs. 20,56,860

WHERE WAGE IS MORE THAN Rs. 15000 per month (wage ceiling Rs. 15,000)
Death Benefit:
Minimum – Rs. 7,45,275
Maximum – Rs. 17,14,050
Permanent Disablement Benefit:
Minimum – Rs. 8,94,330
Maximum – Rs. 20,56,860

[Note: Compensation received is directly proportional to the age of the employee. Slabs with entitlements have been mentioned in Schedule IV of the Act]

In order to bring relevance and a better understanding, here are some key terms defined under the Act:
·         "Employee" means a person who is-
       (i) a railway servant as defined in clause (34) of Section 2 of the Railways Act, 1989(24 of 1989), not permanently employed in any administrative district or sub-divisional office of a Railway and not employed in any such capacity as is specified in Schedule II, or
       (ii) (a) a master, seaman or other member of the crew of a ship
             (b) a captain or other member oft he crew of an aircraft
            (c) a person recruited as a driver, helper, mechanic, cleaner or in any other capacity in connection with a motor vehicle.
            (d) a person recruited for work abroad by a company, and who is employed outside India in any such capacity as is specified in Schedule II and the ship, aircraft or motor vehicle or company, as the case may be, is registered in India; or
      (iii) employed in any such capacity as is specified in Schedule II, whether the contract of employment was made before or after the passing of this Act and whether such contract is expressed or implied, oral or in writing; but does not include any person working in the capacity of a member of the Armed forces of the Union; and any reference to any employee who has been injured shall, where the employee is dead, include a reference to his dependents or any of them;
     "wages" includes any privilege or benefit which is capable of being estimated in money, other than a travelling allowance or the value of any travelling concession or a contribution paid by the employer of a workman towards any pension or provident fund or a sum paid to a workman to cover any special expenses entailed on him by the nature of his employment ;
         "dependant" means any of the following relatives of a deceased employee, namely-
(i) a widow, a minor legitimate or adopted son, an unmarried legitimate or adopted daughter, or a widowed mother; and
(ii) if wholly dependent on the earnings of the employee at the time of his death, a son or a daughter who has attained the age of 18 years and who is infirm;
(iii) if wholly or in part dependent on the earnings of the workman at the time of his death-
(a) a widower,
(b) a parent other than a widowed mother,
(c) a minor illegitimate son, an unmarried illegitimate daughter or a daughter legitimate or illegitimate or adopted if married and a minor or if widowed and a minor,
(d) a minor brother or an unmarried sister or a widowed sister if a minor,
(e) a widowed daughter-in-law,
(f) a minor child of a pre-deceased son,
(g) a minor child of a pre-deceased daughter where no parent of the child is alive, or
(h) a paternal grandparent if no parent of the employee is alive;

Explanation,- For the purposes of sub-clause (ii) and items (f) and (g) of sub-clause (iii), references to a son, daughter or child include an adopted son, daughter or child respectively

You may view the complete notification at