Gratuity for primary, secondary school teachers

Many unaided schools deny gratuity to teachers on grounds that they are not classified as employees in Act

With the recent amendment in the definition of "employee" in Section 2 (e) of the Payment of Gratuity Act, all primary, secondary and college teachers will be entitled to gratuity now.

However, Father Walter Saldhana, president of city-based Labour Research and Consultancy Bureau, said certain unaided schools have been denying gratuity to teachers under the guise of the Supreme Court ruling, arguing that teachers were not classified as employees in the Act.

Even as he has been following it up with the government officials, the Lok Sabha recently passed the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, amending definition of "employee" in the 1972 Act for covering teachers in private institutions with retrospective effect from 1997. "A notification to this effect is expected soon," Saldhana said.

Bhalchandra Desle, director of secondary education, said, "I am not aware about this bill since the notification is yet to come." Once the notification comes into effect, a permanent employee in a primary, secondary school or junior college appointed from 1997, should receive upon termination of service "gratuity at the rate of half a month's salary and DA for every completed year of service," as stated in Section 28(4) of the MEPS rules.

However, teachers are doubtful about sincere implementation of this notification. "Considering that states have to implement the notification at their own level, I am doubtful about the same," said Dnyaneshwar Bhanage, vice-president, Maharashtra State Teachers Council.

Despite there being a provision in the MPES rules, the issue became complicated after an order by a Supreme Court bench in the Ahmedabad Primary Teachers Association case. The order says: "Teachers as a class do not fall within the definition of employee as defined in S 2(e) of the Payment of Gratuity (PG) Act and hence can raise no claim to gratuity under the Act."

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