Monday October 25, 2021

More than intent

September 23, 2021

The Minimum Wages Ordinance of Pakistan suffers from many structural defects. Its definition of a worker includes only people who work in the industrial or commercial sectors. Thus it misses out or excludes at least 50 percent of those who work in the informal sector in shops (assistants), homes (domestic help), agriculture or those on contract with government departments. Unfortunately, around 50 percent of even those who work in industrial and commercial sector do not receive the minimum wages. A few measures could greatly help reduce the confusion and enhance compliance with the exisiting minimum wages laws.

Twenty-five thousand rupees per month should be declared as the minimum wage payable to every citizen across Pakistan, regardless of the employer, location or nature of work. Minimum wages should be adjusted for inflation every year, so the country can move from minimum wage to living wage. The law must clarify that minimum wages are based on a 26-day month and eight hours of duty per day. Overtime or work on a holiday ought to be paid at twice the minimum wage rate per day. A helpline number should be set up where any citizen can lodge a complaint in case of less payment, and there should be strict punishments for non-compliance. The government can also establish regulatory bodies linked to Nadra to ensure that all people are paid fairly.

Naeem Sadiq