Explained: Delhi raises minimum wages. Will domestic maids need to be paid more?https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/minimum-wages-new-delhi-supreme-court-6076148/

Explained: Delhi raises minimum wages. Will domestic maids need to be paid more?

Delhi Labour Minister Gopal Rai said that the new rates, amounting to an increase of around 11 per cent, will be notified before Diwali.

In Delhi, the rates have been fixed by taking into account basic that a family of four has to spend on food, clothing, housing, power, fuel and education to lead a life with dignity. (File)

The minimum wages in the national capital are set to rise with the Supreme Court on Friday allowing the Delhi government to notify the enhanced rates, which will apply to workers in the national capital.

Delhi Labour Minister Gopal Rai said that the new rates, amounting to an increase of around 11 per cent, will be notified before Diwali.

What are the “minimum” wages? How have they been calculated?

Minimum wages, as the name suggests, set the floor for wages that workers are legally entitled to.

In Delhi, the rates have been fixed by taking into account basic that a family of four has to spend on food, clothing, housing, power, fuel and education to lead a life with dignity.

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What is the current status? How often are these wages revised?

Minimum wages have been revised from time to time in various states across India. In Delhi, the last such revision was in March 2017. The rates were fixed at Rs 13,350 (unskilled), 14698 (semi-skilled), and 16,182 (skilled).

Rai said a meeting of the Labour Department has been called on October 21 to iron out the procedural formalities relating to the notification. Until then, workers will be entitled to the rates, which were notified in March 2017.

Are minimum wages paid regularly?

Not always. The stipulations for minimum wages are often violated, with employers transferring the legally mandated amount to a worker’s bank account, to evade penalty, only to take it back from him informally, often in cash.

In Delhi, the violation aside, even the question of just how much a worker is entitled to — on paper — has been unclear.

What did the AAP government do?

After the AAP government had notified enhanced minimum wages in 2017, the Delhi High Court quashed the AAP government order, arguing that the hike violated the norms and that it was done in a hurried manner without consulting employers and employees. The Delhi government rejected the High Court’s assertion.

Later, a Special Leave Petition was filed in the apex court, seeking the restoration of the notification. The SC had on October 31, 2018, ordered that the wages notified in March 2017 will “hold field” till the pendency of the SLP.

The government, meanwhile, was asked by the SC to “re-do the entire exercise of fixing the minimum wages for the scheduled employment afresh following the route prescribed either under Section 5(1)a or 5(1)(b) of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.”

Consequently, the entire exercise was carried out, and a new set of rates were arrived at. The proposed rates, which will be now be notified, are Rs 14,842 (unskilled), Rs 16,341 (semi-skilled) and Rs 17,991 (skilled).

A senior Delhi government official said the new rates will be applicable on all categories of workers eligible under the Minimum Wages, Act. “The eligibility conditions include putting in a minimum of eight hours of work, having a contract”.

Will the minimum wages apply to maids working in homes?

The Delhi official clarified that some segments of workers such as domestic help are unlikely to benefit from this notification as the nature of their job is highly informal. Moreover, “do they have any contracts… (and) They also put in the hours but at a staggered fashion,” the official said.