Timely payment of salary is a fundamental right for employees, ensuring their financial stability and well-being. In India, several laws protect employees from non-payment of wages. This article outlines the legal rights and remedies available to employees when their employer fails to provide the agreed salary, detailing the relevant laws, sections, and steps to take in such situations.

Legal Rights and Framework in India

Indian labor laws provide robust protection to employees against the non-payment of salaries. The key legislations include:

  1. The Payment of Wages Act, 1936:
    • Section 3: Responsibility for payment of wages lies with the employer.
    • Section 4: Wages must be paid on time, no later than the 7th or 10th day of the month depending on the establishment’s size.
    • Section 5: Specifies the time of payment.
    • Section 15: Allows employees to file claims for delayed or unpaid wages.
  2. The Minimum Wages Act, 1948:
    • Ensures employees receive at least the minimum wage as notified by the government.
  3. The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947:
    • Section 33C(1): Employees can claim unpaid wages through the labor court.
  4. The Shops and Establishments Act (State-specific):
    • Regulates the conditions of work and ensures timely payment of wages in shops and commercial establishments.

Steps to Take When Salary is Not Paid

  1. Review Employment Contract and Company Policies:
    • Carefully examine the employment contract for salary terms, payment dates, and grievance redressal procedures.
    • Understand company policies regarding payroll issues.
  2. Document the Issue:
    • Keep a detailed record of unpaid salaries, including dates, amounts, and any communication with the employer regarding the issue.
  3. Communicate with the Employer:
    • Start with an informal approach by discussing the issue with your supervisor or HR department.
    • If unresolved, follow up with a formal written complaint to the employer. Clearly state the outstanding amount and reference the terms of your employment contract.
  4. Internal Grievance Mechanisms:
    • Utilize any internal grievance mechanisms or mediation services provided by the employer.
  5. Send a Legal Notice:
    • If internal methods fail, consider sending a legal notice to the employer. This notice should outline the issue, reference relevant laws, and demand payment within a specified period.
  6. Lodge a Complaint with Labor Authorities:
    • Labor Commissioner: File a complaint with the regional Labor Commissioner. They can mediate between the employee and employer and ensure compliance with labor laws.
    • Under the Payment of Wages Act, 1936: File a claim under Section 15 with the authority designated under the act, such as the Assistant Labour Commissioner.
  7. File a Claim with the Labour Court:
    • Industrial Disputes Act, 1947: File a claim under Section 33C(1) for recovery of money due from an employer. The labor court can order the employer to pay the due wages.
  8. Approach the Civil Court:
    • For substantial claims, you might need to approach a civil court. Legal representation is advisable for navigating complex legal proceedings.
  9. Seek Help from Trade Unions:
    • If you are a member of a trade union, seek their assistance. Trade unions can provide support and advocate on your behalf.

Relevant Legal Provisions

  1. The Payment of Wages Act, 1936:
    • Section 3: Responsibility for the payment of wages.
    • Section 4: Time of payment of wages.
    • Section 5: Wage period must not exceed one month.
    • Section 15: Claims arising out of deductions from wages or delays in payment can be addressed.
  2. The Minimum Wages Act, 1948:
    • Ensures employees are paid at least the minimum wages as prescribed by the government.
  3. The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947:
    • Section 33C(1): Recovery of money due from an employer.
  4. State-Specific Shops and Establishments Acts:
    • Ensure timely payment and regulate conditions of employment in various states.


Employees in India have strong legal protections to ensure they receive their salaries on time. Understanding the legal framework and following the appropriate steps can effectively address issues of unpaid wages. By documenting the issue, communicating with the employer, utilizing internal and external grievance mechanisms, and seeking legal recourse if necessary, employees can assert their rights and secure their financial well-being. It is advisable to consult a legal professional to navigate complex situations and ensure the best possible outcome.

Adv. Khanak Sharma

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