In a significant verdict, the Supreme Court has held that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ has to be made applicable to those engaged as daily wagers, casual and contractual employees who perform the same duties as the regulars.
Terming the denial of equal pay for equal work as “exploitative enslavement”, “oppressive, suppressive” and “coercive”, the apex court said that in a welfare state, the principle has to be extended to temporary employees as well.
“In our considered view, it is fallacious to determine artificial parameters to deny fruits of labour. An employee engaged for the same work, cannot be paid less than another, who performs the same duties and responsibilities. Certainly not, in a welfare state. Such an action besides being demeaning, strikes at the very foundation of human dignity,” a Bench of Justice J.S. Khehar and S.A. Bobde said.
The verdict came as some temporary employees of the Punjab government approached the apex court after the Punjab and Haryana High Court held that temporary employees were not entitled to the minimum of the regular pay scale, merely for the reason that activities carried on by them and the regular employees were similar.
The apex court directed the Punjab government to pay the petitioners the minimum of the pay scale (at the lowest grade, in the regular pay scale), extended to the regular employees holding the same post.
The petitioners were daily wagers working as pump operators, fitters, helpers, drivers, plumbers and chowkidars.
The court said there is no room for any doubt that the duties discharged by the temporary staff in the present case were the same as the regular staff. — PTI