Non Applicability of No Work No Pay Doctrine

The principle of No Work No Pay states that if an employee does not work, then he will not be paid. In India, this principle generally prevails with the exception of a few cases where the circumstances do not approve the said principle.

In the case of State of Haryana v. Bani Singh Yadav it was held that the said principle could not be applied in a case where the employee is kept away from duty or rendered ineligible due to an employer’s act or omission. Following his discharge from the army, this petitioner was assigned to the Haryana Civil Secretariat. Benefits from his military service, which were initially rejected, were eventually granted to him. Promotion given to him was anti-dated. Denial of arrears of pay and allowances to him from deemed date of promotion, on the principle of `no work no pay’ is deemed unjustified.

Similarly in the case of Chief Regional Manager, United India Insurance Company v. Siraj Uddin Khan the respondent was employed as a typist by the appellant company. In accordance with an office order, the respondent was transferred from the company’s Allahabad branch to the Juanpur branch. However, the respondent was absent from his office for four months in a row and continued to be absent from work until 2012. Several charge sheets were issued to the respondent. Disciplinary Enquiry initiated the respondent and an order of reduction of basic pay was passed in 2009 under Rule 23(a) of the General Insurance (Conduct, Discipline & Appeal) Rules, 1975. The respondent filed a series of petitions in the high court challenging the Committee’s orders. The appellant was ordered by the Allahabad High Court to pay back wages with interest. The order passed by the high court was challenged by the appellant in the Supreme Court.

The appellant in this case contended that the high court committed an error in directing for payment of salary after 14.05.2009 to 26.06.2012, when the respondent was clearly not entitled to payment of salary under the No Work No Pay principle because he was absent from work during that time.

To that the respondent contended that charge sheet alleging unauthorized absence for 663 days was never served on him. Respondent prayed that he was entitled for salary since his dismissal order dated 26.06.2012 was set aside on 29.05.2015 against which special leave petition filed by the company had been dismissed by this court on 18.09.2015.

After a thorough analysis of the ‘no work no pay’ principle was done along with their exception was done, the Supreme Court concluded two things:

  1. If a person was absent from work without authorized leave or valid justification, he would not be eligible for wages for that period.
  2. Where an employer has restrained the employee from working, the employer cannot plead the principle of No Work No Pay. And this principle applies only in instances where the employee has voluntarily absented himself from work, and not where the employer has restrained the employee from attending work.

In the case of T.N. Atomic Power Employees’ Union v. Nuclear Power Corporation, members of the petitioner-union did not report for duty on August 14, 1998, due to a lack of transportation, as departmental buses were stopped by residents of nearby towns. On the issue of management ordering non-payment of wages based on the principle of ‘no work, no pay,’ the Madras High Court held that the management had not applied their mind to determine whether those employees had actually participated in the ‘Bandh’ and had willfully absented themselves from duty. The decision to deduct wages for the day cannot be upheld, as the management failed to establish that there was refusal to work on the part of workmen.

In another case, D.N. Bandopadhyaya v. Presiding Officer, 1st Labour Court. In an application under Section 33-C (2) of the I.D. Act, the Labour Court awarded a worker’s claim for compensation for earned leave. Bombay High Court held that reliance can be placed on S.79(3) of the Factories Act, 1948, which inter alia lays down that even when workman quits service on his own accord, he shall be paid leave wages he is entitled to.

As we discuss these few cases in which the principle of No Work No Pay doesn’t prevail, it is important to remember that there is no such thing as a right without duty. The socialist principle `no work no pay’ is not a mere jurimetrician statement; it represents a new way of thinking that it is possible to have a system based on duties only with corresponding rights. Let the employer and employee realize and recognize that the only right a person has is to do his duty and that this is where the doctrine of “No Work, No Pay” comes into play.