The Supreme Court on Thursday extended till June 12 the operation of its May 15 order asking the government not to take any coercive action against companies and employers for violation of its March 29 circular on payment of full wages to employees for the lockdown period.

The Ministry of Home Affair (MHA), in its circular, had asked all employers to make payment of wages to their workers without any deduction for the period their establishments were under closure during the lockdown to contain COVID-19.

The Secretary (Labour & Employment) had also written to chief secretaries of states to advise employers not to terminate employees from job or reduce their wages amid the challenging situation of the pandemic.

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S.K. Kaul and M.R. Shah expressed its concern over the MHA’s circular, saying that 100 per cent wage payment has been ordered with the direction that there would be prosecution of offending employers.

We have reservations over this. Some discussion should be held to work out some solution for this period of time, the bench said, adding that a balance has to be struck between wage payment for the lockdown period and protecting the industries. State may have to give small industries owners a hand. Negotiations need to be held industry to industry, workmen to workmen, the bench said while reserving the verdict on batch of petitions. 

(By – Jyoti)