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Labour laws applicable to all establishments


1. Payment of Wages Act, 1936


The Payment of Wages Act, 1936 applies to every person employed in a factory or a manufacturing unit with respect to employees who earns less than Rs. 6,500 a month (this threshold may be increased by notification by the government). It is a central legislation which has been enacted to regulate the payment of wages to workers employed in order to ensure that employers do not engage in illegal deductions and/or unjustifiably delay in paying wages to them. It applies to the persons employed in a factory, industrial or other establishment even if one is employed through a sub-contractor. A state government can extend the provisions of the act to any other establishments, like shops or movie theatres, or even to a specific industry such as the IT industry or specific service industries if they wish.

For the first offence under this act, there are nominal fines (in the range between Rs.200-2000) but for repeated offenders, there is provision for imprisonment. One needs to be careful!

You need to maintain the following registers in order to comply with this act (the forms can be easily found online):

Registers, Returns & Abstracts

* Register of Fines
* Register of Advance
* Register of Deductions
* Register of Wages
* Annual Return – Form – IV
* Payment of Wages Abstract – Form – V
* Notice of rates of wages – Form – VI
* Notice of Date of Payment

 Minimum Wages Act, 1936

Every state has a minimum daily wage that one must pay to any labourer or employee, skilled or unskilled. It safeguards the interests of workers, mostly in the unorganised sectors, but in organized sectors too, by providing for the fixation of minimum wages. You can find updated rates of minimum wages over here.

Violation of this act is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both. Violation includes non-maintenance of certain registers or not filing annual returns.

Registers, Returns & Abstracts:

* Wage Register
* Over Time Register
* Annual Return – Form-III
* Abstract of Minimum Wages – Form-V
* Minimum rate of Wages fixed Form-XI, XII & XIII
* Name Address of Inspector

Equal Remuneration Act, 1976

The Equal Remuneration Act was passed in 1976, providing for the payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers for same or similar nature of work. Under this law, no discrimination is permissible in recruitment and service conditions except where employment of women is prohibited or restricted by the law. The following records evidencing compliance with the act has to be maintained – failing which the employer shall be punishable with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both.

* Equal Remuneration – Form – D

Exemptions for small businesses

The Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act, 1988 (as amended in 2014) (Exemption Act) provides exemption from compliance with 16 legislations to i) very small establishments (employing between 0 to 9 persons on any day in the previous twelve months), and ii) small establishments (employing between 10 to 40 persons), if they comply with the provisions of the act relating to maintenance of registers and filing returns (explained below). Moreover, after the 2014 amendment, registers and annual report can be maintained in electronic format.

The list of acts from which such establishments are exempted is below:


1. The Payment of Wages Act, 1936 (4 of 1936).
2. The Weekly Holidays Act, 1942 (18 of 1942).
3. The Minimum Wages Act, 1948 (11 of 1948).
4. The Factories Act, 1948 (63 of 1948).
5. The Plantations Labour Act, 1951 (69 of 1951).
6. The Working Journalists and other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955 (45 of 1955).
7. The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961 (27 of 1961).
8. The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 (21 of 1965).
9. The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 (32 of 1966).
10. The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 (37 of 1970).
11. The Sales Promotion Employees (Conditions of Service) Act, 1976 (11 of 1976).
12. The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 (25 of 1976).
13. The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 (30 of 1979).
14. The Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986 (54 of 1986).
15. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 (61 of 1986).
16. The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 (27 of 1996).


Very small establishments

  • Form I -  Annual Return for the year ending 31st March (To be furnished on or before the 30th April of the following year by small establishments and very small establishments)
  • Form III - Muster roll-com-wages required to be maintained by very small establishments

Small establishments

  • Form I -  Annual Return for the year ending 31st March
  • Form II - Register of person employed-cum-employment card for small establishments
  • Form III - Muster Roll to be maintained by small establishments


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