A landmark judgement by apex court of India may exhort government to review labour laws pertaining to employees' provident fund (EPF) dues. The Supreme Court declared that women tailoring garments at home for a company are entitled for the EPF dues.
Bench of Justices AM Sapre and Indu Malhotra ruled out the verdict in a case against Godavari Garments Limited.
The garment company, also a subsidiary of Marathwada Development Corporation of the Maharashtra Government Maharashtra state government, engaged women workers off-site and provided them with raw materials, such as fabric, thread, buttons etc. to make garments at their own homes on their own sewing machines.
SC rejected company’ management alibi that it had no direct or indirect supervisory control over the women workers since the work to be done by them can be done by anybody on their behalf. It declared them as workers of the company since they were paid wages on per piece basis for the services rendered.
In its statement, the bench said, “merely because the women workers were permitted to do the work off site would not take away their status as employees of the respondent company.”
The women were certainly employed for wages in connection with the work of the company as the definition of “employee” includes workers who are engaged either directly or indirectly in connection with the work of the establishment and are paid wages.
The defaulting company was directed to deposit EPF dues of the women worker’s dating back to 1979 within one month. The company will have to deposit Rs 15.97 lakhs as dues for the period of November 1979 to February 1991.
The appeal of the Provident Fund Office (PFO) before the Supreme Court came after rejection from High Court. The justice bench reversed the 2012 order of the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court quashing the notice for the PF dues.
Image Source: https://sanma.org