Temporary employees shall get equal pay like regular employees - SC

The Supreme Court, in State of Punjab vs. Jagjit Singh has held that temporary employees would be entitled to draw wages at the minimum of as the regular employees, holding the same post.

The issue which arises for our consideration is, whether temporarily engaged employees (daily-wage employees, ad-hoc appointees, employees appointed on casual basis, contractual employees and the like), are entitled to minimum of the regular pay-scale, along with dearness allowance (as revised from time to time) on account of their performing the same duties, which are discharged by those engaged on regular basis, against sanctioned posts. This present case arose on a number of appeals where the appellant employees were appointed against posts which were also available in the regular cadre/establishment. It was also accepted by the State of Punjab, that during the course of their employment, the concerned temporary employees were being randomly deputed to discharge duties and responsibilities, which at some point in time, were assigned to regular employees.

The bench of J.S. Khehar and S.A. Bobde, JJ said that in a welfare state, an employee engaged for the same work, cannot be paid less than another, who performs the same duties and responsibilities.

The Court hence, held that there can be no doubt, that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ would be applicable to all the concerned temporary employees, so as to vest in them the right to claim wages, at par with the minimum of the pay-scale of regularly engaged Government employees, holding the same post. In this connection, the Court clarified the legal position for the application of the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’. Some of the principles highlighted by the Court are as follows:

The ‘onus of proof’ of same duties and responsibilities of the subject post, lies on the person who claims it.

The mere fact that the subject post occupied by the claimant is in a “different department”, it does not have any bearing on the determination of a claim, under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’.

Persons performing the same or similar functions, duties, and responsibilities, can also be placed in different pay-scales. Such as – ‘selection grade’, in the same post. But this difference must emerge out of a legitimate foundation, such as – merit, or seniority, or some other relevant criteria.

The principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, cannot be made, where the subject post and the reference post are in different establishments, having a different management. Or even, where the establishments are in different geographical locations, though owned by the same master.

Equal pay principle may not be applicable, the post includes the responsibility to take crucial decisions, and that is not so for the temporary post.

Temporary employees shall get equal pay like regular employees - SC Link


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