The state government of Kerala had issued an order for six days’ salary of government employees to be deducted, for five months, to help tackle the situation in the state, amidst the pandemic. However, several employees and organisations submitted petitions challenging the order, following which the same has been stayed by the Kerala High Court, for two months. As per the HC, salary is an employee’s right, and cuts cannot be forced on any employee without permission.
The earlier salary-cut order had been applicable to staff of all state-owned enterprises, quasi-govt organisations, universities, public-sector undertakings (PSUs) and so on. But the order had also clarified that those earning less than Rs 20,000 per month would be exempted. According to that order, all ministers, MLAs, various board members, members of local body institutions and members of various commissions were to face a pay cut of 30 per cent for a year.
Interestingly, the decision to impose pay cuts (of six days’ pay every month, for five months) had been taken after the first proposal that all government employees should contribute an entire month’s salary towards Kerala’s relief fund was shot down.
With the pay-cut order being stayed now, the Kerala government will have to think of other ways to handle the scarcity of funds to tackle the emergency situation. It is reported that the state government may appeal against the HC order. The legal department is also said to be looking into the legalities of issuing an ordinance pertaining to deduction of salaries of state government employees.