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Minimum Wages Act, 1948

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  • The Minimum Wages Act, 1948 is an important Act under Industrial Law.
  • Constitutional validity of the Act: The Act was enacted so as to provide 'social justice' and 'living wages' as pointed out in Article 43 of the Constitution (Directive Principles of State Policy)
  • Living Wages and fair wages are possible after getting awareness and collective bargaining by trade unionism.
  • Preamble says: To provide for fixing minimum rates of wages in certain employments.
  • Minimum Wages Act, 1948 is Act XI of 1948. It has 31 Sections and 1 Schedule. The Sections are not arranged in Chapters.
  • The Minimum Wages (Central) Rules, 1950 and Minimum Wages (Central Advisory Board) Rules, 1949 are enacted by following the Act. Individual states brought their own rules, such as the Andhra Pradesh Minimum Wages Rules, 1960.

Sections in the Act

  • Section 1: Short title and extent
  • Section 2: Defines Minimum Wages and the concept of Living Wage, Fair Wage and Minimum Wage.
  • Section 3: Fixing of minimum rates of wages
  • Section 4: Minimum rates of wages
  • Section 5: Procedure for fixing and revising minimum rates of wages
  • Section 6: Repealed. Advisory committees and sub-committees.
  • Section 7 to 9: Machinery for fixing or revising the minimum wages.
    • Section 7: Setting up of an advisory board
    • Section 8: Central Government's power to set up Central Advisory Board
    • Section 9: Composition of the Central Advisory Board
  • Section 10: Correction of errors
  • Section 11: Minimum wages shall be paid in cash. Under certain circumstances, the appropriate Government can allow paying minimum wages in kind (Ex: supplying essential commodities at concessional prices)
  • Section 12: Payment of minimum rates of wages
  • Section 13: Fixing hours for a normal working day, etc.
  • Section 14: Overtime
  • Section 15: Wages of worker who works for less than normal working day
  • Section 16: Wages for two or more classes of work
  • Section 17: Minimum time rate wages for piece work
  • Section 18: Maintenance of registers and records
  • Section 19: Inspectors
  • Section 20: Claims
  • Section 21: Single application in respect of a number of employees
  • Section 22 deals with application of the Act
  • Section 23: Exemption of employer from liability in certain cases
  • Section 24: Bar of suits
  • Section 25: Contracting Out (working for wages below minimum wages by signing a contract) is void. It is however valid if it is for the benefit of the employee.
  • Section 26: Exemptions and exceptions
  • Section 27: Power of State Government to add to Schedule
  • Section 28: Power of Central Government to give directions
  • Section 29: Power of the Central Government to make rules
  • Section 30: Power of appropriate Government to make rules
  • Section 31: Validation of fixation of certain minimum rates of wages

Related Cases / Recent Cases / Case Law

  • Public Union for Civil Liberties Vs State of Tamil Nadu and Others, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 3922 of 1985, Supreme Court of India judgement delivered on October 15, 2012
  • People's Union for Democratic Rights vs Union of India (Asiad Games Case) (AIR 1982 SC 1473): Non payment of minimum wages is denial of the right to live with basic human dignity to the laborer and hence is violation of Article 21 of the Constitution
    • Object of Article 23 is to abolish every form of forced labor.
    • State cannot escape from the liability by saying the laborers are employed by contractors.
  • Bandhu Mukti Morcha vs Union of India and others (AIR 1984 SC 802): Central and State Governments are criticized for not implementing labour laws.
    • Financial capacity of the industry is not a criteria for the payment of minimum wages.
    • Article 24 prohibits the employment of children (below the age of 14).

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