The Centre on Wednesday decided to bring in an ordinance to amend the Payment of Wages Act for allowing business and industrial establishments to pay salaries through cheques or electronically.
“The Union Cabinet today approved the ordinance route to amend the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, to allow employers of certain industries to make payment through the electronic mode and cheques,” a source said. Employers will also have the option to pay wages in cash, the source added.
As per practice, the government introduces ordinance to amend laws for immediate implementation of new rules. An ordinance is valid for six months only. The government is required to get it passed in Parliament within that period.
The Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2016, seeks to amend Section 6 of the principal Act to enable employers to pay wages to employees through cheques or by crediting it to their bank accounts electronically. The Bill was introduced by Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya amid din over the demonetisation issue.
It will also allow state governments to specify industrial or other establishments that adopt cashless way for salary payments. The new procedure will serve the objective of “digital and less-cash economy”, the Bill stated.
The Act had come into force on April 23, 1936, providing for payment of wages in coin or currency notes, or in both.
The provision for payment of wages by cheque or crediting it into bank account after obtaining the requisite authorisation of employee was inserted in 1975. At present, the Act covers all those employees in certain categories of establishments whose wage does not exceed Rs 18,000 per month.
The Centre can make rules regarding payment of wages in relation to railways, air transport services, mines, oil fields and its establishments while states take a call on all other cases. By making state-level amendments to the Act, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Kerala and Haryana have already made provisions for payment of wages through cheque and electronic transfer.
House panel postpones RBI Governor’s briefing
RBI Governor Urjit Patel will be called later by a Parliamentary Committee for a briefing on demonetisation as the Veerappa Moily-headed panel has decided to first seek details on the issue from top Finance Ministry officials on Thursday.
Patel was earlier scheduled to come for the briefing tomorrow but now Finance Ministry officials will brief the Standing Committee on Finance first, sources said.
“We thought it’s appropriate to take brief from the Finance Ministry. The RBI Governor would be called some other time,” a source said. Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa and other senior officials will brief the panel on ‘demonetisation of Indian currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 and the impact thereof’.
Other experts too are likely to give their opinion on demonetisation which came into effect from November 9.
Following the decision to scrap old high denomination notes, people are thronging banks to deposit invalid currency and also get valid once to meet their requirements.
RBI has put withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000 per week for individuals but due to the shortage of currency many bank branches are compelled to ration it further.
There has been slew of changes in the rules and regulation both by RBI as well as the government in the last six weeks increasing hardship for both public and bankers. Latest in the series of changes in rules, RBI today rolled back its directive restricting deposits of demonetised notes more than Rs 5,000 in bank accounts till December 30, the last date to return such currency to banks.
Rs 5.92 trillion issued since note ban
The Reserve Bank on Wednesday said banks have issued currency worth over Rs 5.92 lakh crore to the public since the demonetisation of old high value notes last month.
The central bank also said that it has issued 2.2 billion (220 crore) pieces of notes of new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 during the period –November 10 to December 19.