During the lockdown imposed by the government, the Supreme Court and several High Courts rejected many petitions that were arguing that they do not need to pay their employees as they are taking no work from them. The petitions relied on the principle of ‘No work, no pay.’ However, all petitions were rejected based on the settled principle of law i.e. when the employee is ready to work but was not offered any by the employer, ‘no work, no pay’ principle will not be applicable.
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Recently, The Punjab and Haryana High Court also reiterated this principle. It made it clear that if an employee was willing to work but was deprived by the employer, the principle of ‘no work no pay’ would not apply, and the employer would be liable for the period in which the employee remained out of work. Hon’ble Justice Ritu Bhari of the High Court passed the order as she directed the Haryana government to pay a salary of 13 years to an employee who was dismissed from service on disciplinary grounds but reinstated on directions of the state governor.
Facts in Brief:
- The petitioner, Ishwar Singh, was appointed in the prison department as a clerk in 1987 on an ad hoc basis. In 1991, his services were regularized.
- In 2001, he was dismissed from the services because of wilful absence from duty for two days without any leave.
- In 2014, his services were reinstated by the governor. The governor observed that there does not seem to be any justification for dismissal punishment on the charge of willful absence from duty for two days.
- In the compliance of the governor’s order, he was taken back in the service and even promoted to the post of accountant. However, he was not paid for 13 years during which he remained our of service.
- He filed a plea in the Hon’ble High Court to recover the salary for 13 years. The state argued that as per the principle of ‘no work, no pay,’ he cannot be paid as he did not work during those 13 years. However, the petitioner argued that the principle of ‘no work no pay’ could not be applied in this case as he was always willing to work but was not offered any.
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JN Srivastava v. Union of India, (1998) 9 SCC 559
It was held by the Supreme Court that the principle of ‘no work no pay’ is not applicable when the employee was ready and willing to work but did not get because of the employer.
Punjab National Bank v. Virendar Kumar Goel, (2004) 2 SCC 193
The Supreme Court held that principle of ‘no work no pay’ will not be applicable if the employees were out of their jobs for no fault of theirs.
State of UP v Dayanand Chakrawaty, (2013) 2 SCC 791
The Supreme Court held that “We observe that the principle of “no pay no work” does not apply to the employees who were guided by specific rules like Leave Rules, etc. relating to absence from duty. Such a principle can only be applied to those employees who were not guided by any specific rule relating to absence from duty. If the employer prevents an employee from performing his duties, the employee cannot be blamed for having not worked, and the principle of “no pay no work” shall not apply to such employee.”
Shobha Ram Raturi v. Haryana Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Ltd, (2013) 16 SCC 633
In this case, the Supreme Court held that if the employer does not utilize an employee’s service because of his choice/fault, he cannot invoke the principle of ‘no work no pay.’
India has a settled position on the ‘no work, no pay’ principle. A spate of aforesaid cases clarifies that ‘no work no pay’ principle is not applicable when the employee was ready and willing to work but did not get because ofthe employer or if the employee was out of their jobs for no fault of theirs. In pertinent case, the petitioner was out of a job because of no fault of him but of respondents. The petitioner never denied work, but it is the respondent who never offered the work. Thus, the principle of ‘no work no pay’ cannot be invoked in this case.
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The Hon’ble High Court observed the same and held that ‘Thus the petitioner was always ready and willing to work but was deprived by the respondents (state). Thus, the principle of ‘no work, no pay’ cannot be invoked. The respondents are directed to release the petitioner’s salary for the period from April 2001 to April 2014. The petitioner is entitled to all significant benefits.’
The High Court also observed that it seems to be a case of sheer intimidation against a subordinate employee by a senior officer. Someone in an influential position in the department manipulated the things against him best known to them. However, this is a serious matter which calls for a thorough probe by the administrative department. The court cannot turn a nelson’s eye to this situation and the plight of the petitioner.
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This post is written by Gourav Kathuria
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