BUSINESS

Minimum wage to vary across states

Pain and gain:States will fix minimum wages keeping in mind the arduousness of the work, among other things, the Bill says.

Pain and gain:States will fix minimum wages keeping in mind the arduousness of the work, among other things, the Bill says.  

Under Code on Wages Bill, the difference is based on geographies, say officials

The Code on Wages Bill proposed by the Union government earlier this month will not fix a single national level minimum wage for the whole country, but will vary across states and geographies.

“It provides for national minimum wage for different geographical areas so as to ensure that no State Government fixes the minimum wage below the national minimum wage, notified for that area by the Central Government,” the text of the Code on Wages Bill 2017, introduced in Lok Sabha by Labour and Employment Minister Bandaru Dattareya on August 10, said.

Labour Ministry officials said the wage levels would vary state-wise and in some cases, may differ based on geographies – coastal, hilly or plains. “India is a vast country with cost of living varying across states. We cannot have a single national level minimum wage. The Centre will fix different wages through a notification after consulting the Central Advisory Board,” said a senior Labour Ministry official. If the minimum wages fixed by the states are already higher than the ‘national minimum wage’, the states will not be allowed to lower their wage levels, according to the provisions of the Bill. The Code on Wages Bill combines four labour laws — Payment of Wages Act, 1936, Minimum Wages Act, 1948, Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 and Equal Remuneratiom Act, 1976.

Deciding factors

The Bill states that the state governments will fix their minimum wages keeping in mind “the skill required, arduousness of the work assigned to the worker, the cost of living of the worker, geographical location of the place of work,” among other factors. At present, various states are free to fix their own level of minimum wages as per the local conditions, cost of living and other factors.

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