COVID-19 is a serious disease caused by an infection caused by a novel coronavirus that originated in China’s Wuhan province and has now become a global epidemic. Within three months of its initial launch, COVID-19 has spread around the world and is beginning to create negative economic consequences. Indian businesses have also been hit hard by COVID-19. Taking the question of how COVID-19 has been exchanged internationally and social exclusion is the most effective way to control the disease; the Indian government has decided to introduce a national ban in India from March 24, 2020, respectively. It is clear that Lockdown will come with its economic consequences in India; the Indian business is also facing unprecedented problems including labor-related problems. In this paper, we attempt to provide our understanding of specific issues from COVID-19 that may assist employers in taking an informed approach to dealing with their employee issues.
2. WORK FROM HOME
While the concept of domestic work is relatively new to Indian businesses, the principles of Indian employment are silent on work from the domestic concept. There is no official explanation or any specific guidelines that can govern the concept. Similarly, there is flexibility available to employers to allow or not to allow their employees to work from home and to specify their guidelines accordingly. However, legal provisions regarding working hours overtime pay, etc. They will continue to operate as if the work was working on the office premises. Due to the nature of COVID-19 and the promotion of social confusion various governments and central governments occasionally issue various recommendations to promote domestic activity. With the implementation of the closure in India (as of March 24, 2020) all commercial and industrial centers that do not engage in the provision of essential services, should be closed. However, closures due to these external locks do not mean that employers are required to close all their jobs and are free to do homework where possible. Looking for a job to do his homework will not result in any overtime pay because the closure of offices does not mean a holiday announcement. Without closure, industrial establishments that require the presence of workers/staff to maintain their continuity, such institutions may continue to operate after obtaining appropriate permits from local administrative authorities.
3. REDUCTION IN SALARY
In Indian labor laws, there is no specific provision for wage cuts. This must be agreed upon between the employer and the employees. Considering the situation that arises as a result of COVID-19 in certain industries (such as Aviation and Tourism) the employer and employees have agreed to a minimum wage reduction on board. In this regard, if the employer considers the use of the same deduction to be applied everywhere, without discrimination and in particular it should not be a penalty for any particular employee. In addition, to keep in mind the current situation and welfare of employees, the Department of Home Affairs (“MHA”) placed an order of 29 March 2020 ordering all employers to pay their employee’s full salaries and any payments may be an offense under the Disaster Management Act, 2005. However, vide the latest order of 17 May 2019, MHA has made its previous orders invalid, including the order of March 29, 2020, this could mean that employers can now make changes to their employees’ salaries without limitation government. With regard to breaches of the previous order for the period from 29.03.2020 to 17.05.2020, the application is pending in the High Court, challenging the previous order on constitutional grounds. Following the application, the court issued an interim order on May 15, 2020, ordering the state government not to take any action to compel employers who failed to pay their full salaries within the aforementioned period. However, the final decision of the employers on such violations will depend on the final order from the court.
4. THE INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE ACT, 1947
Employees employed in institutions that fall within the scope of the category under Section 2 (j) of the Act may be dismissed or retrenched. Senior management / administrative staff removed from the legislative field. It is important to note that this Act does not give any redundancy right to employers that right can only be granted in the relevant employment contract or in the applicable Standing Order. If an employee works continuously for 240 days in a 12-month period from the date of termination of employment, you are entitled to compensation as a legal right. This means that in the event that an employer fails to provide the same, the employee has the right to take legal aid to obtain the same. The amount of compensation to be paid is up to 50% of the basic salary and the benefit allowance that the employee will be entitled to if he or she is not retrenched. However, employees should be aware that compensation is not a pre-dementia condition, which means that retrenchment can be made, and compensation can be paid in the same way.
Employees under the Act have the right to be notified within 21 days in the event of any adverse employment changes listed under Schedule Four of the Act. These policies include salaries, social security contributions, compensation grants, working hours, rest periods, vacations and holidays, etc.
Lat off is defined in the Indian Industrial Law Act which means failure, refusal, or failure of the employer due to lack of coal, electricity, or equipment or stockpiling or deterioration of equipment or natural disaster or other linked reason for providing employment to an employee. During the termination of employment, an employee continues to be in the employer’s employment but earns less. Employees of the appropriate category of employees may claim compensation of up to 50% of basic salary and retrenchment benefits. If the retrenchment lasts for 45 days or more the employer may continue the retrenchment. Retrenchment compensation is replaced by retrenchment compensation. Retrenchment procedures will vary from one institution to another depending on the number of employees employed and the type of work performed. For non-working class employees, the terms of lay off will need to be agreed upon.
5. COMPENSATION TO INFECTED EMPLOYEES
Employers (in India) are obliged to pay compensation to employees who are injured (including partial or permanent disability) or who die as a result of accidents resulting from or during employment. Accordingly, if it is not shown that the COVID-19 infection was contracted at the time of employment and arose from work, the employer will be legally obliged to pay compensation to the affected employees. The obligation to pay compensation also depends on other factors such as the state of employment, the type of employee’s employment, and the circumstances in which the injury/death/infection was caused. Accordingly, each case must be evaluated based on the facts of each case.
From the above, it is clear whether it is appropriate to receive salaries at the time of termination of employment depending on whether the employee was on the day the announcement was made. If the same is met, it could mean that they will be considered employees and thus allowed to continue pay/remuneration during the closing period. Although this ruling is limited in its application to the Maharashtra Kingdom, it is an indication of how other high courts can answer similar questions. On May 17 the Department of Home Affairs issued a notice reducing the obligation to pay workers’ salaries, so we can assume that in the period between the first MHA Order and the May 17 order, workers should receive wages if they meet the above conditions, whether they work at this time or not. Another important point to note is that negotiations and preferential settlement options should be used before using disputed methods by approaching the courts. This is due to the different circumstances that employers and employees find themselves in and the costs associated with the case line. There are also practical considerations such as court closures and limited online court time making this a difficult practice.
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