Although the words ‘wages’ and ‘salary’ are commonly used interchangeably, there is a discernible difference between the two. The term ‘wages’ is used under labour/employment laws to refer to any and all remuneration and emoluments earned by an employee (excluding certain allowances and bonuses) whereas the term ‘salary’ is used under income tax law to denote the total taxable income received by an employee. It is important to note that different labour law legislations have a different definition of wages. For instance, the EPF Act refers to ‘basic wages’ which is used as the base for computing employee and employer social security contributions. Basic wages is defined as all payments which are earned by an employee in accordance with the terms of the employment contract. The Wages Act on the other hand, has a much wider definition of wages – here wages is defined as all remuneration (whether by way of salary, allowances, or otherwise) expressed in terms of money or capable of being so expressed, which would, if the terms of employment, express or implied, were fulfilled, be payable to a person employed in respect of his employment.
Maximum Working Week
As a general principle, employees cannot be required to work in any establishment for more than 9 hours a day or 48 hours a week, without attracting overtime payments.
An employee working ‘overtime’ becomes entitled to wages at the rate of twice his/her ordinary rate of wages and could also be entitled to a compensatory time off.
Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace
The various State-specific S&E Acts have special provisions with respect to ensuring safety of women who work during night shifts. Employers in such cases are required to ensure that adequate security and transport facilities are provided (at their own cost) to female employees. The FA Act also envisages precautions to be taken against explosives, inflammable gases, dangerous fumes, gases and fire. Non-compliance with provisions of the FA attracts both monetary penalty and imprisonment.
In the terms of the ISEO Act, employees are required to frame grievance redressal mechanisms to address individual worker complaints. In any case as a general practice, most employers have an internal complaint mechanism that details processes employees must follow, in case of any workplace related issues. It is also important to note that India has a standalone legislation pertaining to sexual harassment at the workplace – which prescribes a detailed complaint mechanism for instances of sexual harassment, that all Indian establishments must adhere to.