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Whether part-time employees can claim minimum wages?

In recent times of COVID – 19, the employers are not able to pay the workers because of the losses incurred in lockdown. This article answers the question of whether part-time employees can claim minimum wages or not.

By: Naman Gujral, Delhi Metropolitan Education.

What Is a Part-Time Employee?

A part-time job is a form of employment that carries fewer hours per week than a full-time job. They work in shifts. The shifts are often rotational. Workers are considered to be part-time if they commonly work fewer than 30 hours per week. In India, a lot of people consider doing a part-time job while doing studies or with their full-time job for some extra earnings. 

How Part-Time Employees Work

The classification of a part-time worker is based on the company’s standard work schedule. Consequently, the definition of a part-time employee will vary from organization to organization. For example-

  • In some organizations, they take working hours as a base to differentiate between part-time and full-time workers. people working for 40 hours plus per week our considered full-time workers and people working less than 30 hours a week are considered part-time workers 
  • In many organizations, one differentiation between full-time and part-time employees is the eligibility for benefits, such as health insurance, provident fund, paid vacation days, and sick leave. Some organizations enable part-time employees to collect a pro-rated set of benefits. In other organizations, part-time status means an employee cannot receive benefits.

The question lies with whether the part-time workers should get a minimum wage or not

A minimum wage is the lowest remuneration that employers can legally pay their workers, the price floor below which workers may not sell their labour. Most countries had introduced minimum wage legislation by the end of the 20th century.

The purpose of minimum wages is to protect workers against unduly low pay.

They help ensure a just and equitable share of the fruits of progress to all, and a minimum living wage to all who are employed and in need of such protection. As per the Indian Constitution, ‘Minimum Wage’ has been defined as the level of income for skilled and unskilled workers which ensures a sustaining standard of living while also providing for some measure of comfort.

In India, a special act was also enacted by the parliament of India that says The Minimum Wages Act 1948 is an Act of Parliament concerning Indian labour law that sets the minimum wages that must be paid to skilled and unskilled labours.

In India minimum wages differ from state to state for example – A skilled worker in Delhi will get a minimum pay of 673 per day and in Bihar, A skilled worker will get a minimum of 364 per day.

The part-time workers cannot claim a minimum wage from their employers but what they can get is paid according to the hour they work a day if a full-time worker works 8 hours a day and a part-time worker works 4 hours a day then he should be obliged to have half the pay of a full-time worker.

As part-time workers, they also do not get benefits like a provident fund or ESIC that a full-time worker enjoys so there should be a minimum wage set for the part-time workers, so they don’t get exploited by the employer. Such cases have happened in the past where the government has to intervene to protect the part-time workers from getting exploited – Gujarat high court on Aug 22, 2014, pulled up the state government for paying less than minimum wages to its part-time employees. The court ordered the state to increase the payment to above Rs 221 per day from next month.

The HC directed the government to pay at least minimum wages to part-timers, who are engaged in Class IV positions in various departments, in response to a PIL filed by Gujarat Rajya Anshkalin Karmchari Mandal through advocate Ashlesha Patel.

 Endnotes:

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