B.S.Abdur Rahman Crescent Institute of Science & Technology


In a democratic context, the essence of political freedom is intrinsically linked with socio-economic freedom. This connection underscores the importance of economic justice and active participation, with a specific focus on uplifting socially and economically disadvantaged groups, including religious minorities. Both governmental and non-governmental organizations play pivotal roles in pursuing these objectives, aligning with the constitutional principle that prohibits discrimination based on race, caste, and religion. India’s commitment extends to ensuring equal status and opportunities for all its citizens.


India boasts an extensive array of labor laws meticulously overseeing various facets of employment, ranging from payment of wages to working conditions. Despite these legal frameworks, the unorganized sector, encompassing 90% of the workforce, grapples with an array of challenges. These challenges span high job insecurities, struggles for fair wages, extended working hours, exposure to work hazards, and substandard living conditions. Notably, women and children within this sector often find themselves inadequately protected.


In India, 90% of the workforce engages in the unorganized sector, confronting numerous problems despite contributing significantly to the economy. Challenges include high job insecurities, minimum wages, long working hours, work hazards, and inadequate protection for women and children.


Unorganized workers grapple with job insecurity due to various factors such as climate change and geographical locations affecting employment opportunities. Their engagement is often limited to three months a year, leading to unemployment or the pursuit of alternative jobs for the remaining nine months.


While the Minimum Wages Act of 1948 defines wages, many workers still receive less than the statutory minimum. The Supreme Court, in People’s Union of Democratic vs. Union of India, emphasized that even if poverty forces someone to work for minimum wages, it constitutes forced labor, violating Article 23.


In the unorganized sector, especially agriculture, working hours surpass labor and regulatory norms. Agricultural workers lack fixed working hours, and workers in other unorganized sectors endure 12-15 hour workdays, often exploited due to illiteracy and dependence on wages.


Unorganized workers face hazardous working conditions affecting their health. Industries like fireworks, tobacco, and matchsticks expose workers to respiratory diseases. Agricultural workers encounter health issues due to pesticide use, living in substandard conditions with inadequate facilities.


Despite Article 39(d) of the constitution advocating for equal pay for equal work, women and children face disparities. Children work long hours in hazardous conditions, and women experience harassment, unaware of their rights.


Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. Vs Satish Sharma & Ors.:

App. No. 350/2007 Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Satish Sharma and Ors. highlighted the importance of considering skilled/unskilled workmen’s incomes as per the Minimum Wages Act for determining deceased individuals’ incomes. The Court emphasized the significant increase in minimum wages, ensuring fair compensation.

Randhir Singh Vs. Union of India, 1982 AIR 879:

This case established the principle of equal pay for equal work. The Supreme Court interpreted Article 14 and Article 16 in the light of Directive Principles of the State Policy, ensuring fair salaries for employees.

Casual labour vs Union of India:

The court emphasized that classifying workers as regular and casual leads to infringement of Art 14 and 16. It stressed the judiciary’s role in protecting the rights of unorganized workers.

Deena vs Union of India:

The court held that extracting labor from prisoners without sufficient wages constitutes forced labor, violating Article 23 of The Constitution.


The Constitution of India is a cornerstone for safeguarding labor rights, encapsulating a comprehensive array of articles dedicated to this cause. Article 14 ensures equal treatment before the law, Article 19(1)(c) grants citizens the right to form associations or unions, and Article 21 promises protection of life and personal liberty. Article 23 prohibits forced labor, while Article 24 prohibits the employment of children below the age of 14 years. Article 39(a) provides that the state shall secure to its citizens equal right to an adequate means of livelihood, and Article 39A ensures equal opportunities for access to justice, irrespective of economic or other disabilities. Article 42 instructs the state to make provisions for securing just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief, while Article 43 orders the state to secure a living wage, decent conditions of work, and social and cultural opportunities for all workers. Article 43A provides for the participation of workers in the management of industries through legislation, and Article 39(d) enshrines the principle of equal pay for equal work. Article 46 mandates the state to promote the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections, particularly scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Articles 32, 226, and 227 grant writ jurisdiction to the Supreme Court of India and High Courts, respectively.


The government’s strategic focus on labor laws in India reflects a comprehensive approach aimed at ensuring the well-being, rights, and development of the nation’s workforce. This commitment extends across various critical areas, each playing a pivotal role in creating a just and equitable labor landscape.

1. Labor Policy Formulation:

The formulation of labor policies is a cornerstone of the government’s approach to labor laws. These policies serve as a roadmap, guiding the direction of employment-related regulations and shaping the overall labor ecosystem. By regularly revisiting and updating these policies, the government can adapt to changing economic dynamics, technological advancements, and evolving societal needs, fostering a dynamic and responsive labor environment.

2. Ensuring Safety, Health, and Welfare of Workers:

Prioritizing the safety, health, and welfare of workers is a fundamental thrust area for the government. Stringent regulations and guidelines are put in place to create a secure working environment. This includes measures to prevent occupational hazards, provide access to healthcare facilities, and ensure overall well-being. By enforcing these standards, the government aims to protect workers from physical and mental harm, fostering a workforce that is both productive and healthy.

3. Special Provisions for Women and Child Labor Protection:

Recognizing the vulnerabilities of certain sections of the workforce, the government has implemented special provisions to protect the rights of women and children. These provisions address issues such as equal pay for equal work, maternity benefits, and stringent measures against child labor. By prioritizing the protection and empowerment of these groups, the government aims to create an inclusive and gender-sensitive labor environment.

4. Managing Industrial Relations and Dispute Resolution:

Effective management of industrial relations and prompt resolution of disputes are crucial for maintaining a harmonious work environment. The government’s focus in this area involves facilitating dialogue between employers and employees, creating mechanisms for dispute resolution, and ensuring fair and timely adjudication. This approach aims to prevent disruptions in industrial activities, fostering stability and cooperation between labor and management.

5. Promoting Workers’ Education:

An educated and informed workforce is essential for the overall development of the labor force. The government invests in promoting workers’ education, empowering them with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the complexities of the modern workplace. This includes initiatives for skill development, vocational training, and educational programs tailored to the needs of the labor market.


The regulatory landscape governing wages in India is a multifaceted framework designed to ensure fair compensation and equitable treatment for the country’s workforce. Encompassing a range of acts and statutes, these laws aim to protect the rights of employees, prevent exploitation, and promote social and economic justice. In this comprehensive analysis, we delve into key legislations that form the bedrock of wage-related regulations.

1. Minimum Wages Act, 1948: Ensuring a Decent Standard of Living

The Minimum Wages Act, 1948, stands as a crucial pillar in the legal edifice governing wages in India. This act empowers states to fix minimum rates of wages for scheduled employments, with a primary objective of ensuring fair remuneration for labor. It explicitly excludes accommodation value and specific contributions or allowances from the definition of wages, preventing any dilution of the intended benefits.

The Act’s overarching goal is to eradicate exploitation in the labor market, safeguarding workers from receiving inadequate compensation for their efforts. By setting a floor for wages, it seeks to provide a decent standard of living for employees, acknowledging the correlation between economic well-being and overall societal progress.

2. Payment of Wages Act, 1936: Timely Disbursement and Protection against Deductions

The Payment of Wages Act, 1936, serves as a shield against arbitrary wage practices, ensuring timely disbursement of wages to employees. It mandates that wages should be paid in currency notes or coins, maintaining transparency in financial transactions. Moreover, the Act allows for alternative modes of payment, such as cheques or bank transfers, provided there is written consent from the employee.

Crucially, the Act acts as a bulwark against unauthorized deductions, safeguarding workers from financial exploitation. By establishing clear guidelines on wage payment, it fosters a sense of economic security among employees, contributing to their overall well-being.

3. Payment of Bonus Act, 1965: Sharing Profits with the Workforce

The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, applies to establishments with 20 or more employees and mandates the payment of bonuses based on profits or productivity. The Act establishes a formula for calculating bonuses, ranging from 8.33% to 20% of the salary or wage earned by an employee during the accounting year.

This legislation recognizes the symbiotic relationship between workers and the financial success of an enterprise. By ensuring a share in the profits, it motivates employees, fosters a sense of ownership, and contributes to a more harmonious employer-employee relationship. The Act strikes a balance between the interests of employers and the rightful expectations of the workforce.

4. Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972: Acknowledging Long-Term Service

The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, is designed to recognize and reward employees for their long-term service. It mandates the payment of gratuity to employees who have completed five or more years of continuous service. The Act covers situations such as superannuation, retirement, death, or disablement due to accident or disease.

This legislation is a testament to the societal acknowledgment of the dedication and loyalty of long-serving employees. By providing financial security in the form of gratuity, it encourages a stable and committed workforce, contributing to the overall stability of the labor market.

5. Equal Remuneration Act, 1976: Promoting Gender Equality in the Workplace

The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, takes a significant stride towards gender equality by ensuring equal pay for men and women workers for the same work or work of a similar nature. The Act explicitly prohibits discrimination in the matter of wages on the grounds of gender, fostering an inclusive and egalitarian work environment.

This legislation is pivotal in addressing historical wage gaps and dismantling gender-based wage disparities. By promoting equal remuneration, it aligns with broader societal goals of gender equity and contributes to creating workplaces that are fair, diverse, and free from discrimination.


The failure of proper implementation of legislations necessitates judiciary intervention, emphasizing the judiciary’s role in protecting unorganized workers’ rights. Through various judgments, the judiciary underscores the right to livelihood as an inherent part of the right to life. Some additional noteworthy cases include:

– M.C. Mehta v. State of Tamil Nadu, 1996: The Supreme Court highlighted the need for employers to provide protective gear and a safe working environment, especially in hazardous industries. This case emphasized the employer’s responsibility for the health and safety of workers.

– People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India, 1982:The court stressed the significance of the right to livelihood and declared that payment of less than the minimum wages would amount to forced labor, violating Article 23 of the Constitution.

– Bachan Singh v. State of Punjab, 1982: While primarily a case dealing with the death penalty, the Supreme Court discussed the concept of dignified and humane conditions of work as an integral part of the right to life.


Addressing systemic issues requires comprehensive interventions, encompassing not just legal measures but societal shifts. Bridging gaps in equality and justice demands continuous evaluation of policies, societal norms, and collaborative efforts between the government, judiciary, and society to forge a just and inclusive society.

In conclusion, a robust legal framework is in place to protect the rights and interests of workers in India. However, the effective implementation of these laws remains a challenge, particularly in the unorganized sector. Strengthening enforcement mechanisms, raising awareness among workers about their rights, and fostering a culture of compliance among employers are crucial steps toward achieving a more equitable and just labor environment. Additionally, ongoing dialogue and collaboration between stakeholders, including government bodies, non-governmental organizations, and the judiciary, are essential to address emerging challenges and ensure the continuous evolution of labor laws in response to the dynamic socio-economic landscape.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *