COVID-19 battle: Kerala to issue ordinance over salary cut for staff

High Court had stayed an order issued by the state government observing that it lacked legal backing

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said that the deducted amount will be given back to the employees when the financial condition of the state improved. Photo: PTI (file)

A day after the Kerala high court stayed an order to deduct the salary of government employees in a bid to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the state on Wednesday (April 29) decided to issue an ordinance in this regards.

The ordinance will empower the Left government it to deduct salaries of its employees to mobilise funds for the COVID-19 battle in the state. Observing that it lacked legal backing, the High Court stayed the order, which said of all state government staff’s monthly salaries for six days would be deducted for the next five months.

Announcing the cabinet decision, Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac told reporters that as per the ordinance, the state government had been empowered to defer 25 per cent of the salary of its employees in the event of a disaster.

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“The state government can take a decision on giving back the deferred amount within six months. These are the two operative provisions,” Isaac said. The Minister, however, made it clear that 25 per cent of the salary would not be deferred and the state government would go ahead with the earlier six-day cut itself.

“The state government has taken the decision on the ordinance as per the Kerala High Court order. We could have gone for an appeal. But the court said that the government order on deducting salary does not have a legal backing. So, we have decided to make it legal,” he said.

He also pointed out that while other states have cut more than 30 per cent salary of its employees salary, Kerala’s ordinance allows to deduct six days pay.

Earlier, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said that the deducted amount will be given back to the employees when the financial condition of the state improved.

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