The Madras High Court on Friday said that a holiday declared by the government under the Negotiable Instruments Act will not be directly applicable for private entities covered under the Factories Act. The employees who did not turn up for work on such holidays will not be entitled to wages for that particular day, the High Court said.
Justice SM Subramaniam was hearing a plea filed by the management of Bimetal Bearings Limited of Hosur in Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu, which had challenged an order passed by a labour court, directing it to pay wages to 47 employees who did not work on July 30, 2015.
While passing the order, the judge also quoted Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, saying, “Don't declare holiday on my death, instead work an extra day, if you love me”, as relevant to the case.
The case dates back to former president APJ Abdul Kalam’s demise on July 27, 2015 following which the state government had declared July 30, 2015, as a public holiday under the NI Act.
Bimetal Bearings declared July 30 to be a paid holiday only for those who were on general and first shifts whereas those in second and third shift were directed to report to work. The union office bearers, however, requested that the second shift and third shift should also be granted holiday with wages as well.
Bimetal Bearings has one general shift and three continuous shifts. The general shift working hours is from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm. The first shift’s working hours are from 7.30 am to 4.00 pm. The second shift working hours are from 4.00 pm to 12.30 am, and the third shift working hours is from 12.30 am to 7.30 am.
The petitioner declined the union’s request but offered an alternate in which if the workmen of the second shift and third shift agreed to work on August 8, (their weekly holiday) it would exempt them from reporting from work on July 30.
They further stated that the employees did not have the rights to have filed a claim petition under Section 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act.
The section states, “where any workman is entitled to receive from the employer any money or any benefit which is capable of being computed in terms of money and if any question arises as to the amount of money due or as to the amount at which such benefit should be computed, then the question may, subject to any rules that may be made under this Act, be decided by such Labour Court as may be specified in this behalf by the appropriate Government.”
The Court upheld that the state government’s holiday is not applicable to private entities covered under the Factories Act, set aside the November 2017 order by the Salem labour court directing the factory to pay them wages and stated that a ‘concession can never be construed as a legal right’. The concession, in this case, refers to the option offered by the factory to the second and third shift workmen of an alternate working day.