SC extends order of no coercive action against employers for non-payment of full wages

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

A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, S K Kaul and M R Shah reserved the verdict on a batch of petitions filed by various companies challenging the circular of the Ministry of Home Affairs issued on March 29 asking the employers to pay full wages to the employees during the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the proceedings conducted through video conferencing, the top court said there was a concern that workmen should not be left without pay, but there may be a situation where the industry may not have money to pay and hence, the balancing has to be done.

Meanwhile, the apex court asked the parties to file their written submissions in support of their claims.

The top court on May 15 had asked the government not to take any coercive action against the companies and employers who are unable to pay full wages to their employees during the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Centre also filed an affidavit justifying its March 29 direction saying that the employers claiming incapacity in paying salaries must be directed to furnish their audited balance sheets and accounts in the court.

The government has said that the March 29 directive was a “temporary measure to mitigate the financial hardship” of employees and workers, specially contractual and casual, during the lockdown period and the directions have been revoked by the authority with effect from May 18.

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