Code on Wages, 2019

Code on Wages, 2019

For decades, the compensation process between employer and employee was governed by a system of fragmented and unspoken laws. In India, these commandments were a product of poor historical patchwork of labor laws. The Minimum Wages Act, the Payment of Wages Act, the Payment of Bonus Act, and the Equal Remuneration Act – each an essential part of worker protection – all together made a maze for businesses, navigating which was challenging. Yet, A recent initiative, the Code on Wages (CoW), promises to untangle this complexity. This reform, enacted in 2019, a culmination of years of deliberation, aspires to streamline payroll management and usher in a new era for the strong Indian workforce of over 460 million – a figure that represents nearly 18% of the global working population. As we delve deeper, the CoW reveals itself as more than just a streamlining effort; it’s a potential catalyst for a more equitable and secure work environment for the world’s second-most populous nation.

What Is Code on Wages?

The Code on Wages (CoW), enacted in 2019, marks the shift in the wage regulation framework in India. Before this, four laws governed wage matters – the Minimum Wages Act, the Payment of Wages Act, the Payment of Bonus Act, and the Equal Remuneration Act. They presented several spoken and unspoken challenges for business. Compliance was complicated. CoW seeks to set a simplified system for better 0compliance. It combines the fragmented laws into one unified code. This initiative aims to make wage structure, timely payments, and worker protections easier to understand for both employers and employees. While it’s too early to give any conclusion about the impact of the initiative, it has the potential to streamline and make payroll more equitable for workers in India.

Why a New Code?

Despite plenty of regulations on wages, 80% of the workforce, roughly 300 million people, were still out of the benefits radar. These were primarily from the unorganized sector. The exclusion was vast and left employees vulnerable to exploitation and deprived them of social security measures.

To tackle these issues, The Code on Wages (CoW) emerged from a critical need to address significant gaps in worker protections across India. First, it consolidates four previously existing labor laws—the Payment of Wages Act, Minimum Wages Act, Payment of Bonus Act, and Equal Remuneration Act—into a single, unified framework. This will streamline the business payroll process to a great extent. Second, the CoW broadens the definitions of “employee” and “employer” to cover more people and ensure inclusivity for all.

Moreover, the Code of Wages goes above and beyond the usual regulations by striving to ensure that both organized and unorganized sectors receive fair treatment. This shows a great step towards reducing the massive gap in benefits. Additionally, the Code of Wages emphasizes the importance of increasing contributions to social security funds, paving the way for a stronger safety net for Indian workers. These crucial initiatives aim to establish a more fair and secure work environment for the entire Indian workforce.

Objectives of the Code on Wages

The new law aims to solve all the issues previously faced, improve pay management, and protect workers in India. It has a few imperative scopes. One big scope is to simplify rules. CoW combines four old laws into one, so employers have clear rules to follow. This decreases the risk of inadvertent non-compliance and reduces the administrative burden associated with payroll processing.

Another aim is to set a clear definition for pay, covering all parts of employee pay. This removes doubt and fights about pay sums and rights. CoW also protects worker rights, ensures workers get paid on time, and stops employers from tricking the employees for selfish motives. By making strict rules, CoW creates a fair and safe workspace for Indian workers.

Key Definitions Introduced by the Code on Wages

1. Floor Wage (Definition and Role of Central/State Governments)

The Wage Rule (Wage Law) brings in the idea of “Minimum wage,” which is imperative for deciding the lowest wage amount in India. The lowest wage must be given to workers in all jobs, acting as a safety net to ensure a basic standard of living.

The Wage Rule gives power to the main and local leaders to determine the base wage. They set a base wage countrywide, considering financial situations and living standards. State governments, however, have the authority to fix a higher floor wage within their jurisdictions, considering regional variations in living costs and economic development. This dual approach ensures a nationally mandated minimum wage standard while allowing states to tailor it to their financial realities.

2. Minimum Wage (Determination by Central/State Governments)

Adding to the base pay’s base, the CoW also plans to set the minimum wages for diverse employee groups. Like the base pay, the main government can set low pay rates for some workers in central government projects or centrally run public sector places.

However, the main purpose for setting minimum wages in a place is with the state government. State governments look at things like skill level, what the job needs physically, where the job is located (city or country), and how people live there to set low pay rates for various worker groups in their area. This multi-level approach ensures the pay is sufficient to sustain a good standard across economies.

3. Wage Period and Time of Wage Payment

The CoW introduces clarity regarding the “wage period,” which refers to when workers get their money. Businesses can choose to pay staff daily, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. However, they can’t choose a period longer than a month.

Also, the CoW ensures workers get paid on time. Employers must pay staff what they earn shortly after the wage period ends. The rules on how soon they need to pay vary based on the chosen wage period. This helps workers get their money fast and prevents problems from late payments.

Consolidation of Existing Laws Under the Code on Wages

The Code on Wages (CoW) will subsume four previously existing labor laws and usher in a new era of streamlined payroll management in India. The four laws are:

  • The Minimum Wages Act, 1948: This law anticipated setting the lowest pay rates for many kinds of workers in different jobs and areas. It gave the main and state leaders power to decide the lowest pay, considering things like how good the workers are and how they live. However, the law had some limits because it only looked at some areas, and it was hard to set the lowest pay for all different jobs.
  • The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965: This act states that companies must give extra money each year to workers who qualify. The bonus was based on a part of their pay or a set minimum, whichever was more. But, it only applied to some businesses, leaving out many workers.
  • The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976: The Act sought to eliminate the unfair pay gap rooted in gender. It mandated that men and women undertaking similar responsibilities should be compensated equally. Nonetheless, it primarily focused on positions in a specific location and did not fully rectify larger gender-based wage inequality.
  • The Payment of Wages Act, 1936: This Act introduced requirements for prompt compensation costs and allowed for payment deductions. However, the document didn’t state enough about how employees get paid and didn’t show how to determine the components that make up someone’s pay.

The Code of Wages as a Unifying Force

The CoW effectively addresses the limitations of these previous laws by consolidating their core principles into a single, unified framework. Here’s how the CoW streamlines regulations:

Minimum Wages: The CoW advances the Minimum Wage law by introducing a nationwide minimum pay standard. It empowers central and state governments to determine minimum wages and ensures their parity across the country.

Bonus Payments: The CoW incorporates the core objectives of the Payment of Bonus Act but expands its applicability to cover a wider range of establishments.

Equal Remuneration: The CoW supports fair pay for the same work shown in the Equal Remuneration Law. It also stops pay gaps not only for men and women but for any other unfair reason. The CoW advocates for equitable compensation for equivalent work as outlined in the Equal Pay Act. It also eradicates wage disparities not just between genders but on any other unjustifiable grounds.

Timely Wage Payments and Deductions: The CoW keeps the main ideas of the Payment of Wages Act about paying wages on time and allowing deductions. However, it provides a better way to explain wages and makes it easier to see all the parts of wages.

By consolidating these disparate laws, the CoW offers a simplified and comprehensive approach to employee compensation in India. This reduces the administrative burden on businesses and fosters greater transparency and fairness in wage practices, ultimately creating a more robust and equitable work environment for Indian employees.


The wages law in India, the Code on Wages (CoW), is a big step in making payroll and protecting workers better. It joins many laws and sets a clear and fair system for employers and workers. As firms adjust to CoW, it can make work fair and safe for Indian workers. The earnings law in India, Code on Wages (CoW), represents a significant stride in improving payroll and safeguarding workers. It consolidates multiple laws and establishes a transparent and equitable system for employers and employees. As companies adjust to CoW, it can promote fair and secure working conditions for Indian workers. If you want to automate these operations, factoHR’s payroll management software can be your one-stop solution. Its easy-to-understand resources and revolutionary tools will streamline your business and ensure cent percent compliance.


What Is the Meaning of Code on Wages?

The Code on Wages (CoW) is a fresh statute in India that streamlines the payment process for workers. It amalgamates several existing laws into one, enabling businesses to comprehend and comply with wage guidelines more easily.

What Is the List of the Code of Wages?

The CoW does not adhere to a fixed set of regulations. However, it has superseded four previous statutes: the Minimum Wage Act, the Incentive Compensation Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Salary Disbursement Act.

What Is Section 20 of the Code on Wages?

As the CoW is a vast document, specific details require referring to the actual act. Section 20 likely deals with deductions from wages, which the CoW regulates to protect employees from unfair withholding of their earnings.

What Is a Salary Code?

Salary code is a broader term with no specific meaning in the CoW. It could refer to an employer’s internal system for classifying and managing different salary components.

What Are Pay Codes?

Pay codes are internal identifiers businesses use in their payroll systems to categorize different types of employee payments. These codes could represent base salary, allowances, bonuses, etc.

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