Can't pay 28 days' salary to Covid absentees: MSMEs

(This story originally appeared in on Apr 28, 2021)

NOIDA: Already battered by the pandemic-induced economic slowdown, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in Gautam Budh Nagar have expressed their inability to adhere to the state government order asking industries to pay 28 days of salary to workers who are affected by Covid and unable to report to work. They accuse the government of transferring its responsibility towards workers to small entrepreneurs.

According to Laghu Udyog Bharti (LUB), MSMEs are already contributing to ESI benefits for workers and have no bandwidth to bear salaries for absentees. “We are yet to recover from the impact of last year’s lockdown and are already bearing various expenses like ESI benefits for our employees. To impose a pay-out of 28 days for Covid-positive workers is unfair,” Manjula Mishra, president of LUB, told TOI.

“We have already told the government that we are not in a position to bear this expense and we feel by this order, the government is outsourcing its responsibilities towards workers to the industry owners,” he said.

In its order on April 26, the state government asked all industries to cover 28 days of salary for Covid-affected workers and to ensure payments for daily-wagers at workshops and stores which are shut at this time. “The MSMEs are key contributors to the economy and they themselves need protection at this time,” Mishra added.

Echoing similar sentiments, Rajiv Bansal, national secretary of the Indian Industries Association (IIA), said, “The pandemic has hit the workflow of MSMEs and many factories are working under capacity, productivity has once again dropped. We are not sure if in such a situation any industry would be able to bear the 28 days of payment for the Covid-affected workers.”

“We, on the contrary, believe that the government should arrange free vaccination for all workers at the earliest at locations close to factories,” he added.


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