Minimum Wages Act 1948
The Minimum Wages Act 1948 is an Act of Parliament concerning Indian labour law that sets the minimum wages that must be paid to skilled and unskilled labours. The Indian Constitution has defined a ‘living wage’ that is the level of income for a worker which will ensure a basic standard of living including good health, dignity, comfort, education and provide for any contingency. However, to keep in mind an industry’s capacity to pay the constitution has defined a ‘fair wage’. Fair wage is that level of wage that not just maintains a level of employment, but seeks to increase it keeping in perspective the industry’s capacity to pay. To achieve this in its first session during November 1948, the Central Advisory Council appointed a Tripartite Committee of Fair Wage. This committee came up with the concept of Minimum Wages. A minimum wage is such a wage that it not only guarantees bare subsistence and preserves efficiency but also provides for education, medical requirements and some level of comfort.
India introduced the Minimum Wages Act in 1948, giving both the Central government and State government jurisdiction in fixing wages. The act is legally non-binding, but statutory. Payment of wages below the minimum wage rate amounts to forced labour. Wage Boards are set up to review the industry’s capacity to pay and fix minimum wages such that they at least cover a family of four’s requirements of calories, shelter, clothing, education, medical assistance, and entertainment. Under the law, wage rates in scheduled employments differ across states, sectors, skills, regions and occupations owing to difference in costs of living, regional industries’ capacity to pay, consumption patterns, etc. Hence, there is no single uniform minimum wage rate across the country and the structure has become overly complex.
The advantages of a minimum wage:
Definition of Unskilled, Semi-skilled, Skilled & Highly Skilled Workers
An unskilled employee is one who does operations that involve the performance of simple duties, which require the experience of little of no independent judgment or previous experience although familiarity with the occupational environment is necessary. His work may thus require in addition to physical exertion familiarity with variety of articles or goods.
A semiskilled worker is one who does work generally of defined routine nature wherein the major requirement is not so much of the judgment, skill and but for proper discharge of duties assigned to him or relatively narrow job and where important decisions made by others. His work is thus limited to the performance of routine operations of limited scope.
A skilled employee is one who is capable of working efficiently of exercising considerable independent judgment and of discharging his duties with responsibility. He must possess a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the trade, craft or industry in which he is employed.
A highly skilled worker is one who is capable of working efficiently and supervises efficiently the work of skilled employees.