Wages Act, 1948 was enacted to safeguard the interests of workers,
mostly in the unorganised sector by providing for the fixation of minimum
wages in certain specified employments. It binds the employers to pay
their workers the minimum wages fixed under the Act from time to time.
Under the Act, both the Central Government
and the State Governments are the appropriate Governments to fix, revise,
review and enforce the payment of minimum wages to workers in respect
of 'scheduled employments' under their respective jurisdictions. There
are 45 scheduled employments in the Central sphere and as many as 1530
in State sphere.
In the Central sphere, the Act is enforced
through the Central
Industrial Relations Machinery (CIRM). CIRM is an attached office
of the Ministry of Labour and is also known as the Chief
Labour Commissioner (Central) [CLC(C)] Organisation. The CIRM is headed
by the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central). While, the State Industrial
Relations Machinery ensures the enforcement of the Act at the State level.
The appropriate Government is required
to appoint an Advisory Board for advising it, generally in the matter
of fixing and revising minimum rates of wages. The Central Government
appoints a Central Advisory Board for the purpose of advising the Central
and State Governments in the matters of the fixation and revision of minimum
rates of wages as well as for co-ordinating the work of Advisory Boards.
Minimum wage and an allowance linked
to the cost of living index and is to be paid in cash, though payment
of wages fully in kind or partly in kind may be allowed in certain cases.
The minimum rate of wages consists of a basic wage and a special allowance,
known as 'Variable Dearness Allowance (VDA)' linked to the Consumer Price
Index Number. The allowance is revised twice a year, once in April and
then in October.
Under the Minimum
Wages Act, there are two methods for fixation/revision of minimum
- Committee method - Under this method,
committees and sub-committees are set up by the appropriate Governments
to hold enquiries and make recommendations with regard to fixation and
revision of minimum wages, as the case may be.
- Notification method - Under this
method, Government proposals are published in the Official Gazette for
information of the persons likely to be affected thereby and specify
a date not less than two months from the date of the notification on
which the proposals will be taken into consideration.
After considering the advice of the Committees/Sub-committees
and all the representations received by the specified date in Notification
method, the appropriate Government shall, by notification in the Official
Gazette, fix/revise the minimum wage in respect of the concerned scheduled
employment and it shall come into force on expiry of three months from
the date of its issue. The Government may review the minimum rates of
wages and revise the minimum rates at intervals not exceeding five years.
The fixation of minimum wages depends
on a number of factors such as level of income and paying capacity, prices
of essential commodities, productivity,local conditions, etc. Since these
factors vary from State to State, the wages accordingly differ throughout
the country. Hence, in the absence of a uniform national minimum wage,
the Central Government introduced a 'national floor level minimum wage'.
Initially, this minimum wage level was fixed at Rs. 35/- per day and has
been revised periodically. The last revision being Rs. 66/- per day with
effect from 1.2.2004, on the recommendations of the Central Advisory Board.
All the States/UTs Governments are required to ensure that fixation/revision
of minimum rates of wages in all the scheduled employments is not below
this national minimum wage.
Also, in order to bring uniformity in
the minimum wages of scheduled employments, the Union Government has requested
the States to form regional Committees. Hence, five Regional Minimum Wages
Advisory Committees have been formed in the country. These include:-
||West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar,
Jharkhand and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
|North Eastern Region
||Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur,
Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Nagaland and Tripura.
||Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka,
Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Lakshadwadeep.
||Punjab, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu
& Kashmir, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi and Chandigarh.
||Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh,
Chhattisgarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu.