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Government Servants And Overtime Allowance Under The Factories Act

Section 59(1) of the factories act, of 1948 provides that:
"Where a worker works in a factory for more than nine hours in any day or for more than forty-eight hours in any week, he shall, in respect of overtime work, be entitled to wages at the rate of twice his ordinary rate of wages".

This was done to provide the workers who were forced to do overwork doesn't leave out without getting the benefit of their work as it was often seen that the factory owner didn't provide overtime allowances and deprived them of the benefit for the extra work that they did. So this overtime allowance not only protects workers' rights but also provides them with the option to earn more with extended work in the factory.

But in the present case which we are focusing on is whether the government employees working in the factory can derive the benefit of double overtime allowance as provided in the factories act. This question was the main contention in Security Printing & Minting Corporation of India Ltd. & Ors. Etc vs Vijay D. Kasbe & Ors. Etc. In this case, the Bombay High Court held that the government employee working as a Supervisor in the factory will be entitled to get a double overtime allowance.

The High Court in their verdict were of the view that the Supervisor employees were similarly placed with the other employees and thus were entitled to have the same benefit. However, it was found by the High Court that some of the employees had already compromised with the management, so the relief was granted to only those employees who had not done the compromise of the matter with the management.

The Supreme Court bench comprised Justices V Ramasubramanian and Pankaj Mithal in their judgement regarding the question as to whether government employees would be entitled to get the benefit of overtime allowance as per the Factories Act held that the government servants cannot claim double overtime allowance if the service rules do not provide for the same.

While coming to the conclusion related to the case, the SC provided that there are three different types of employment categories present in the country. They are
  1. Employment is governed specifically under labour welfare legislation and is statutorily protected in order to protect them from exploitation and unfair labour practices.
  2. Employment who are governed solely based on the terms of the contract and falls outside the purview of the labour court legislation.
  3. Employment in the civil services or civil post of the Union or the State.

With this, the Court is of the opinion that the supervisors as employed in the factory specifically come under the third category which is the person who is holder of civil post or civil services under the Union or the state. They can't be in the same categories as that of someone who is solely based on a contract. By deducing this it can be said that the supervisor employees in question are not in the same category as the workers who are working in the factory.

This is because workers are employed based on the contract formed and are not provided with a periodic pay provision, pension or any other benefit that a government employee would get. Another thing that needs to keep in mind will be looking for the distinction between government servants and workers is that the appointment for a civil post or civil services by government agencies is not governed on the basis of the contract of service or solely by labour legislation but on the basis of state or statutory rules issued under Article 309 or its proviso.

Furthermore, government employees are required to place themselves to be ready at the disposal of the Government all the time which means that they can be employed in any manner and asked to perform the duty they have been called upon by proper authority. While doing the work apart from the usual work hour they are without any claim for additional remuneration apart from the general pay that they get. Now as the service rules deny any chance for the employees to be given a double overtime allowance they won't be eligible to get the same under the Factories Act, of 1948.

Section 59 of the Factories Act is provided specifically to protect factory workers from overtime work than the stipulated time and to protect their human rights while keeping in check that they are treated as humans not as objects which can be forced to do work without providing any benefit and keeping them safe. So putting them in the same bracket as the government worker would be foolishness as they don't get the same benefit as the other one and the law governing both sets of workforce is also different.

So the Supreme Court bench in their judgment while setting aside the Bombay High Court provide a significant ruling that the government employees are not entitled to the double overtime allowance as per the Factories Act because being appointed in a civil post or civil service, the service rules do not provide for the same and thus can't get the benefit provided in the factories act. Allowing this would result in government employees getting the benefit of best of the both worlds thus giving them an unequal advantage over the other employees.

The SC further noted that the Tribunal and the High Court should have tested the claim made in the case and examined "whether it is an attempt to get the best of both worlds" which they clearly failed to do so. They also noted that both the Tribunal as well as High Court while handling the case did not consider the difference between individuals employed in the government sector and those in the private sector, along with the impact of the legal regulations on the working conditions of the people involved in the case. This includes their responsibility to work additional hours.

Thus with this judgment, the avenue for the government servants to claim overtime allowance under the Factories Act is closed as the service rule specifically abhors this and also that the section was provided especially for manual and contract labours and workers. So this stops them from getting the benefit from the best of both the world.

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