HC orders TN government to assess layoffs during pandemic

The Tamil Nadu government has been asked to submit a preliminary report by November 29 after assessing as to how many employees were unjustly exploited and laid off using the pandemic as an excuse, and then not reinstated

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The Madras High Court has directed that the Tamil Nadu government assess the number of employees laid off by various industrial units during the pandemic, without complying with the norms and labour laws; and the number of people not reinstated even after the situation improved.

The state government has been asked to submit a preliminary report by November 29.

The orders were issued following a writ petition being filed by the Labour Liberation Front, a trade union, against Mercury Precision Products. Among other issues, the petition had drawn attention to the fact that Mercury Precision Products had failed to reinstate some workers even after the lockdown had been lifted and the situation had started to improve.

Taking note of the fact that many employers took advantage of the uncertainty and sad situation of the pandemic to lay off employees, the HC has asked the state government to comprehensively assess, in consultation with the Labour Commissioner, the extent to which employees were rendered jobless at various industrial establishments.

The Madras HC has ordered that the conditions of service and the increase in unemployment rate between the pre-pandemic and post-pandemic ‘relaxation of restrictions period’ be compared to assess the situation.

The Court suggested that as part of the assessment, the number of workers on the rolls of an industrial establishment as on January 1, 2019 could be compared with the numbers as on October 27, 2021. If the workforce size appears to have reduced, then the concerned establishments can be asked to justify the decreased number of employees.

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