In view of the relaxations granted by the Maharashtra Government in certain industrial areas amidst the nationwide lockdown, the Aurangabad bench of the High Court of Bombay in its order dated 30.04.2020 directed all manufacturing units to pay full wages of the workers who come to work. Furthermore, the Hon’ble High Court also allowed these units to deduct salaries of workers who chose to remain absent from work voluntarily.

“In the event such workers voluntarily remain absent, the management would be at liberty to deduct their wages for their absence, subject to the procedure laid down in law while initiating such action. This would apply even to areas where there may not have been a lockdown,” stated Justice V. Ghuge.

The order was passed in response to a cluster of petitions filed against the notification issued by the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs dated 29.03.2020 to ensure that all workers, including the migrants, are paid monthly wages by their employers in considering the present situation of lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The Petitioners stated that since their manufacturing units have been stalled due to the nationwide lockdown, it has become increasingly difficult to pay workers their full wages. Simultaneously, they also submitted that they were ready to pay 50% of the gross wages of the workers as prescribed under the Minimum Wages Act.

In the due course of hearing, Justice V. Ghuge referred to the order passed by the Apex Court on 27.04.2020 wherein a similar request by the employers had been put forward. Stating that since the matter was Sub Judice and there was no interim relief granted by the Supreme Court in the said order, Justice Ghuge decided not to interfere with the Apex Court’s decision and henceforth ordered the Petitioners to pay the gross wages to their employees.

Further adding that the State had relaxed the lockdown restrictions in certain industrial areas, Justice Ghuge stated as follows, “Thus, the workers would be expected to report for duties as per the shift schedules, subject to adequate protection from Coronavirus being provided by the employer”.

The present case was heard via video conferencing and the next date for hearing was decided to be 18.05.2020.

Order:Bombay HC Order