Bombay High Court allows employers to deduct wages of absentee employees in areas where restrictions are relaxed

The petition was filed at the Bombay High Court’s bench at Aurangabad against the notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on 29 April 2020. This notification ensured that the workers, including migrants, would be paid their monthly wages due to the peculiar situation of covid19.

Arguments before the Court

The counsel on behalf of the petitioner contended that management is willing to offer work, and workers are also willing to work. But restrictions are imposed due to the peculiar situation and mandated to shut down their business.

Thus petitioners want a relief by exempting them from paying monthly wages during the lockdown period or allow them to pay 50% of the gross wages or minimum rate of wages, whichever is higher.

Court’s View

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The court discussed that similar issue is presented before the honourable Supreme Court in the case of Ficus Pax Private Ltd., v. Union of India and others. The court did not give any decision related to this matter. The Kerala High Court has also stayed an order pertaining to this issue.

The court further stated that it would not interfere in the impugned order as the apex court is dealing with the same issue. Justice Ghuge expressed his view and mentioned that:

“I would expect the petitioners to pay the gross monthly wages to the employees, save and except conveyance allowance and food allowance if being paid on a month to month basis in the cases of those workers who are not required to report for duties.”

Court’s Decision

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The court also said that the industrial areas where the court lifted the lockdown partially, the workers would be expected to report for duties. But if they are absent voluntarily, then employers can deduct the wages of employees who fail to report.

But the payment of gross wages by these petitioners to the workers, save and except conveyance/food allowance, shall be subject to the result of this petition. Thus this matter will be heard again on 18 May 2020.


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