A sigh of relief for private firms as the Supreme Court on Friday directed that no coercive action should be taken till July last week against these companies for failing to pay full wages to their employees during the coronavirus-induced lockdown period.
The top court said states must facilitate negotiations between employees and employers over wage payment, and file their reports with the labour commissioners concerned.
The centre has been given four more weeks by the Supreme Court to file a reply on the legality of the March 29 notification that had ordered mandatory payment of full wages during the lockdown.
The Union Home Ministry, in its circular in March, 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.
“It cannot be disputed that the industry and labourers need each other. Efforts should be made to sort out disputes regarding payment of wages for 50 days,” a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MR Shah said while passing the orders.
The top court said those who are willing to work should be allowed to work, notwithstanding the disputes regarding wages.
The court was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by several companies, challenging the Ministry of Home Affairs order to pay full salaries to employees during the 54 days of lockdown.