If employer at fault, full back wages can be granted to terminated staff

The Gujarat High Court observed that the employer/organisation having wronged the employee should not benefit from its own wrongdoing


The Gujarat High Court recently ruled that when an employee is terminated, the backwages do not automatically get awarded when the employee is reinstated. However, the High Court also clarified that if the employer is at fault in the termination case, then full back wages can be granted by the Labour Court. The reason, as stated by Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice NV Anjaria is that “no one can take benefit of its own wrong.”

It was found that the departmental inquiry into the accusations against the employee was tantamount to vitimisation. Also, the inquiry was not fair since the employee, a workman, was not given the chance to cross-examine the witness produced by the employer, or present his own witness. Additionally, the Court took into account the major delays that happened in the case; that 17 valuable years had passed before the decision could be made. The workman was finally reinstated in 2019 and no justification was given for the unnecessary and inordinate delay.

Clearly, the workman had been wrongfully fired from his job and therefore, it is only fair that the employer / organisation should not take advantage of the wrong done by the establishment itself. Also, when an employee is wrongfully and illegally terminated, the normal thing to do is reinstate the person and also offer back wages, along with service continuity.

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