The principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’a clear and unambiguous right.Giving a big relief to millions of temporary employee who are working for government departments and agencies across the country on contractual basis, the Apex Court has yeaterday held that they are entitled to wages equivalent to permanent employees and for them principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ must be followed.
A bench consisting of Justices JS Khehar and SA Bobde ruled the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ constitutes a clear and specific right vested in every employee whether engaged on regular or temporary basis.
The Bench said that in its 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 shares the same duties and responsibilities. This can not go on, in a welfare state. This is against the very foundation of human dignity.
A Worker is compelled to work at a lesser wage as he has to provide food and shelter to his family. He does so at the cost of his self respect, dignity and self worth, and at the cost of his integrity. Else his dependents would suffer immensely, if he does not accept the lesser wage, said the Bench.
Petition was filed by tempoary employee working for state of Punjab seeking wage parity with regular employee. They challenged the Punjab and Haryana High Court held that temporary employees were not entitled to the minimum of the regular pay-scale, merely for reason, that the activities carried on by them and the regular employees were similar.
Setting aside the HC order SC ruled that the principle of equal pay for equal work must be followed in the country as India was a signatory of International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Once India is a signatory to the covenant, having ratified the same on April 10, 1979. There is no escape from the above obligation that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ constitutes a clear and unambiguous right and is vested in every employee.