Partner - Risk Management
Manager - Human Resource
Raj Kumar Hansdah
Shrm, Od, Hrd, Pms
Soft And Behavioural Skills Trainer
Hr, Administration & Law
Providing the Safety Shoes & Uniform is the requirement of business as well as in terms the Health & safety of the employees, company is bound to provide the same as the nature of work.
It is mandatory to provide the same to the employees & recovering the cost from employes is not correct, ethical, & lawfull.
25th February 2014 From India, Mumbai
25th February 2014 From India, Kumbakonam
Issue of Safety Shoe and uniform to employees is in conformity with the safety requirements of the job/ organisation whether prescribed by Factories Act/Rules or otherwise and have not been issued by the employer as per the wishes of the employee. Such being the case the question of recovery of an amount , whatever be the ratio, is not permissible either by the statute or otherwise.
28th February 2014 From India, Delhi
It is surprising and shocking to note that there are companies who stoop so low so as to even recover a part of the PPE's issued to employees.
Such bad practices should be condemned and brought to the notice of authorities.
What happens if an employee is not able to or does not want to contribute or "purchase" ?? Does the company refuse to issue him these safety appliances, putting him to risk ???
28th February 2014 From India, Delhi
In the Factories Act, 1948, there are specific provisions for providing the
personal protective equipment for workers who are exposed to unsafe and unhealthy environment. It is also the intention of the law that theses personal protective equipments shall be of such type and made of such materials that they withstand to such specific hazards for which they are actually being used. You are requested to refer to the rules framed in your state under the Factories Act, 1948 for more details in this regard. This being the legal position recovering the cost of PPEs is not legal.
1st March 2014 From India, Coimbatore
Your question is valid and yes does invite a strew of thoughts.
However, may I give a perspective where - eg- When a person works in a company, they expect the company building to be strong, foundation stable, in days of summer to have adequate ventilation and sufficient light in the cubicle, offices. And just because a company provides these doesn't mean they should charge an employee for it.
Similarly, protective gear is required to save, protect lives of people who are working for the company. This is a basic right, requirement need for a person working. Generally companies give safety gear and a change approx. every three months. This is a standard and basic requirement which should be provided to employees at no cost. Legally one shouldn't recover.
But yes, if a company doesn't have a good policy - they will end up with workers coming to you every moth with reasons on how they lost their equipment, damaged, misplaced it, etc and you need to end up giving them extras. Its a balance of providing basic facilities+ Protection but ensuring that its not taken for granted.
If this is the reason for charging them money - the perspective is understandable; but instead of making them pay - perhaps companies can instil a policy wherein they keep a limit to no of overalls a person will be given at no cost, or conditions under which they can claim x number of overalls a months; but in case of wilful damage, etc they may need to bear a small portion of the cost.
Thanks for putting up the query for examination.
1st March 2014 From India, Mumbai
Following is a very good practice following in my organization. We give uniform and footwear to all employees.
What we provide:
How we process:
-3000 deducted from first month salary
-reimbursed after 6 months...
Why: because now a days attrition is very high. It will control the same.
Hope is helps
6th March 2014 From India, Delhi
The law stipulates provision of safety/protective clothings as also helmets, safety boots safety belts. An employee may not like to pay for the same, but the employer is under obligation to provide the same. It is by nature of the management trying to meet the statutory obligation by providing the same free of cos You may not find it codified but will appreciate the position.
18th March 2014 From India, Delhi
Issue of shoes are for the safety of foot in case of any untoward incident to protect injury to foot in work.
Normally it will be supplied by the co. once in a year or two based on the nature of work on free of cost. But some persons/employees, without taking responsibility, they are not wearing, loosing uniform and shoes by their negligence, and not wearing shoes and uniform in due course of time.
Therefore, to have seriousness, some companies are making them as a part of the partner to feel ownership of uniform, a token/nominal amount being deducted from them.
That is the reason for their contribution. But not otherwise. one should appreciate this aspect.
18th March 2014 From India, Hyderabad
Eg today, every employer wants employees to have a cell phone, but employees are required to buy and pay for it on their own. Sales Rep are required to wear ties as a part of the uniform, but the company does not pay for it. So, unless stated specifically, nothing legally requires the employer to pay for the shoes.
For example, when company specifies that MR need to travel on bikes, and that all bike users need to use helmets, do they have to,pay for the helmet or can they ask for the employee to buy his own.
Only link I see here is the sec 7A stipulation of maintaining a safe environment. But again, that would really mean following safety regulations, safety systems on machines, no fumes, etc but not necessarily to provide free shoes. Any law or decision that links this point ? I wish to understand for an achemedic interest since I am sure someone will at some time argue on that line.
18th March 2014 From India, Mumbai
It is being argued that although the Law does ask the employer to provide it, nowhere it says that the employer can not recover the cost.
There can be arguments for the sake of arguments. In Hindi they are called "Tarka", "Vitarka" and "Kutarka". It is the last one that one should guard against. Kutarka or 'bad arguments'goes like this :
A glass of water is half full.
It means, it is half empty.
Therefore, half empty means half full.
So 'empty' is equal to 'full' !!!
I have only two points to make with respect to the discussion going on.
The first is :
The Law requires the employer to provide several things for the safety and welfare of the employees.
For example; under the Factories Act, they range from providing cool drinking water, washing facilities, to canteen, creche, First Aid Box, Ambulance, Welare officer etc etc.
Since nowhere does it say that the employer should not recover the costs from employees; should an employer RECOVER PRO RATA COST FROM EMPLOYEES the expenses in providing these, such as cost of running the Creche, the salary of Welfare Officer etc etc ?? Cost of running the canteen, and other facilities ??
If this is so; then no employee will get any salary !!
In any case, the Labour cost components come to 8-12% of the total production cost. If all such EXPENSES for complying with the Laws and running the business are recovered from employees; there would not be any need to pay any salary.
I think this seems to be the attitude of companies which are actually anti-social elements incorporated to hoodwink the Law. These are the kind of companies who will think of even breaking down the MINIMUM WAGES into several components with MINISCULE BASIC PAY, so that they pay less PF and other statutory obligations. Who are they trying to fool ???
My second point is :
Before one thinks of RECOVERING WHATEVER AMOUNT one thinks fit, from the salary of employees;
I suggest one should thoroughly study the PAYMENT OF WAGES ACT,1936.
About the problem of employees losing their PPE's again and again; there is a procedure for taking DISCIPLINARY ACTION for such neglegience.
When such companies can merrily TERMINATE employees at will; why can not they take Disciplinary Actions ??
It seems they are MORE INTERESTED in recovering money from ill-paid employees.
Also, why do these companies hesitate in IMPOSING FINES, instead of recovering money ??
The simple reason is, FINES have to be shown in the specified registers, which has to be shown to Labour Authorities and they will definitely seek justifications.
Moreover, the FINES can not be kept by the Employers, but have to be given to Labour Welfare Fund of the concerned state.
So the companies feel, it is better to enjoy the recovery from employees.
It is unfortunate that employees, esp. workmen, are too scared to knock at the doors of Labour Court against such ILLEGAL RECOVERIES.
More appalling is the fact that HRs either due to ignorance of Laws or to get favours from the Management, are a willing party to such acts.
19th March 2014 From India, Delhi
For water and washing facilities, it is specified that it must be free of cost. Same is specified for crèche.
Canteen, many companies deduct money from the employees salary for food. It is not always free. In fact, few companies provide it free today.
Welfare officer is an officer of the company, so there is no question of recover of that money from employees. He rarely does things for employees anyway.
Frankly, I do not see the relevance of minimum wages breakup in this context.
And, no. The wages paid is far in excess of cost of all of these, and there will still be a lot left to pay to.
In terms of fines, the amount of fines specified is such a small amount, it makes nil difference to the employees. For example, someone caught spitting can be fined, not more than ₹3 per incident. The worker will laugh it off. Incidentally you need to hold a departmental inquiry to fine him ₹3. The maximum amount of fines that can be charged in a month is not more than 3% of gross wages (excluding overtime). Again, workers don't care as it makes insignificant impact. Even getting the list of fines approved is a huge task.
That is the reason the companies do not bother with fines. In the given context, fines can not be retained, so anyone losing a PPE and being fined does not help as the money can not be used by the co sony to buy a replacement. And, imagine having to conduct domestic enquiry to penalise a worker for losing a shoe. The cost benefit does not come close to reality.
Your point on Pay,net of Wages Act, is probably the one I was looking for, which is that unless specified in sec 6 and 7, you can not deduct it from wages. So my original question - where in law is it explicitly prohibited is now answered. We need to look in sec 6&7 of Payment of wages act and not in factories act where the requirement is given.
19th March 2014 From India, Mumbai
It is open discussion in a professional manner that makes this forum so attractive to me.
I know, I can make a point wothout fear of ridicule and also know that seniors will point out mistakes so that we can answer when it comes up in real life :)
19th March 2014 From India, Mumbai
I am reproducing Rule 54 of Tamil nadu BOCW Rules 2006
54. Use of Safety Helmets and Shoes:--
(1) The Inspector may, having regard to the nature of hazards involved in the work carried out, order the employer in writing to supply to the building workers exposed to particular hazard at a building or other construction work, any personal protective equipment, namely safety Helmets and Shoes as may be found necessary.
(2) The employer shall ensure that all persons who are performing such work, wear safety, shoes and helmets conforming to the national standards.
While I had a discussion with the Factory Inspector who is holding additional responsibility of BOCW Inspector, he confirmed that the BOCW Inspector is having the power to pass the instruction to the Construction company to issue the PPEs on Free of cost. We are issuing the PPEs on free of cost. But if the workmen runaway without completion of the specified period then we deduct the cost of PPE on pro rata basis and for that the Contractors are also agreeing as it is done with the express consent of the concerned Contractor.
This is for your information please.
19th March 2014 From India, Kumbakonam
Thanks for your valuable input with real-life experiences.
I agree with you that the only time it is fully justified to recover (pro-rata) cost of PPE's is when the workman leaves the job (without proper notice and final settlement), and does not return the PPE's.
At other times. it should be the responsibility of the employer to provide the mandated PPE's to the workman, free of cost.
This is not the same as in other situations such as; for example :
- when pizza or fast-food delivery boys/salesman are recruited with the condition that they must have their own two-wheelers (and valid driving licence); in such a case the person is bound to comply with the requirements of the Motor Vehicles Act and he should have a helmet while driving. Since the recruitment has been done with the necessary requirement of having two-wheeler, (and helmet is a part of the package) the employer is not required it, as it is the duty of the owner to have helmets.
-- similarly in case of salesperson, the company may have a dress policy to make them wear ties. Since it is not a life-saving device nor mandated by law; the company may or may not provide it - depending on its policy and culture.
However, the case of safety devices for work in a particular industry is entirely different, and in most case required by Law. For example in high-rise construction industry, safety belt is a must. Also, in highly noise-polluting industry such as power plant etc. its necessary that workers wear EAR PLUGS.
Police officers of anti-terrorist squad may need to wear bullet-proof vests.
In such situations, it is the employer who should provide these, and not ask the employees that they should pay for it.
20th March 2014 From India, Delhi
Although Raj has given me the exact answer I requires (ie, ref to sec 6,7 of payment of wages act which explicitly disallows deductions other than listed), I would like to discuss this further.
The wording of the section that you quote clearly says that when instructed by the inspector, the employer will be required to supply PPE. This clearly means it must be given free of cost. There is no such explicit provision in th factories act. I have come across this argument many times (though we insist in our reports that it must be provided free quoting sec 7A). That was my original query.
Thanks for your additional inputs.
Does anyone know of any court decision to strengthen the argument ?
20th March 2014 From India, Mumbai
I appreciate your persistence in looking for an AUTHORITATIVE instructions on these, backed by JUDICIAL decision or order.
However, let us accept the fact that there can not be an order or judgement on every aspect of life, unless such cases mushroom and become a serious widespread concern.
Thus, even in the absence of an order or judgement, we should apply our mind without any prejudice or favour, and think rationally with the philosophy of welfare and equity.
There are always unwritten rules and customs which are fair and just. We should know the best practices of industry and apply them.
20th March 2014 From India, Delhi
Eventhough the Helmet is considered as Protective equipment, it is used all the places for private and official use. (For wearing helmet protective gear one of the Tamil Actor Mr. Ajith Kumar told in a press conference "Sweating is better than bleeding"). We are discussing about the PPEs which are required to be used inside the work premises. Obviously it is the responsibility of the Employer to provide safe working environment to their employees. Hence the PPEs are supplied on free of cost. But, in case, the worker runs away with the PPEs and if he quits the job, then the supplied PPEs are waste. (One will not use the Safety Shoes or Safety Jackets used by others and the employer declares it as free, then there will not be any control on expenditure on purchase of PPEs. That's the reason I mentioned that for those leaving the workplace before the stipulated tenure, they can be recovered with the cost of PPEs on prorata basis.
21st March 2014 From India, Kumbakonam
They say that people leave without notice and carry away the PPE and we can't afford to give every time a new person. The principal employer does not pay for this separately, it being a part of computed rate.
We need to give a fair solution (else it will not get resolved irrespective of what the audit report says)
We came up with following solutions from time to time.
If any one has other solutions, please add to it.
- keep a set of helmets and shoes in the factory for use of new employees. After 1 week, give them new ones.
The current minimum wages is about ₹230. So 1 week wages is ₹1380. The helmet, goggles and shoes cost about ₹1200 together. So if he leaves without notice with the PPE, your unpaid wages is more than PPE cost and you can set it off.
If he leaves after a week, same thing, since wages are paid 7-10 days after month end, the cost is recovered from unpaid wages of current month.
- ask the employee to pay for the PPE when they join and reimburse it with salary after they have worked for a month (I think this runs foul of sec 6,7 of POWA since payment to employer amounts to deduction)
- ask the employee to buy shoes and helmet with his own money as condition of joining, and then pay it back with first wages. Here again, by the time wages are paid, contractor has 1 weeks salary with him to adjust if he runs off with the PPE
Keeping a set of common use shoes for new employees is a problem since there will be hygiene issues.
Helmet and goggles is probably ok.
Please give other practical ideas.
Let's be clear - no contractor will bear ₹1200 each time a new employee comes in as his profits get hit badly in cases where attrition is high. On the other hand, most principal employers will refuse to bare this also.
That's the reality. So, prorate adjustment is probably the best idea. But does this amount to deduction under the act ?
21st March 2014 From India, Mumbai
As a matter of fact, the Safety Shoes are issued free of cost. If a worker worked for 3 months then he need not to return or pay for that and after 3 months he will get another pair of shoes. But Helmets and goggles are not have any specified life period. It is one time issue only. But if a person works for short period obviously then it will be recovered or if he leaves after 6 months then the cost of helmets and goggles also will get waived off.
This is the same followed in many construction sites. Hence the PPEs are supplied free of cost only.
22nd March 2014 From India, Kumbakonam