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Govt wants ministries, depts to ensure ‘equal pay for equal work’ for all temporary staff

The DoPT has asked ministries & PSUs to notify what action they have taken to implement a 2017 SC judgment guaranteeing 'equal pay for equal work'.

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New Delhi: The central government has asked its ministries and departments to implement a 2017 Supreme Court order guaranteeing ‘equal pay for equal work’ for all casual workers.

The move could affect hundreds of casual workers employed with the government as daily wage employees, ad hoc or temporary appointees, etc.

In an office memorandum dated 7 October, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) directed all ministries and public sector units (PSUs) to submit the action taken by them to implement the Supreme Court order.

While there is no official data on exactly how many such workers are employed, for a large number of tasks that are temporary or project-based, the government prefers to employ temporary workers instead of permanent staff who are entitled to lifetime benefits such as promotions, pensions, etc.

In another Office Memorandum issued by the DoPT in September, all ministries and departments were asked to implement the Supreme Court order “in letter and spirit”.

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‘Not giving equal pay is exploitative’

The Supreme Court had in 2017 ruled that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ has to be extended to those engaged in ad hoc or contractual work. Denying the same amounts to “exploitative enslavement,” and is “oppressive, suppressive and coercive”, the court had said.

In March, the Delhi High Court had also asked the central government to file a status report on the implementation of the SC order by government departments and ministries.

The high court had asked the central government to “file the status report on affidavit as to whether all Government Departments/PSUs/Corporations under the Central Government including CWC are complying with the law declared by the Supreme Court…

“If all the Government Departments PSUs/Corporations are not complying with the directions of the Supreme Court…the Government shall forthwith issue O.M to all the Government departments/PSUs/Corporations to comply with the aforesaid directions…,” the HC had stated.

DoPT’s September memorandum

After the Delhi high court’s instructions, the DoPT through its office memorandum sent in September had said: “Where the nature of work entrusted to the casual workers and regular employees is the same, the casual workers may be paid at the rate of 1/30th of the pay at the minimum of the relevant pay scale plus dearness allowance for work of 8 hours a day.”

It added: “In cases where the work done by a casual worker is different from the work done by a regular employee, the casual worker may be paid only the minimum wages notified by the Ministry of Labour & Employment or the State Government/Union Territory Administration, whichever is higher, as per the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.”

The DoPT also said that people employed as daily wagers should not be recruited for work of regular nature.

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