What to Do if Your Employer Fails to Pay Your Salary in India
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What to Do if Your Employer Fails to Pay Your Salary in India

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As an employee in India, it is your right to receive timely and fair payment for your work. Unfortunately, many employers take advantage of their workers by refusing to pay their salaries or delaying payments indefinitely. If you find yourself in this situation, it's essential to know your rights and the steps you can take to rectify the issue. In this blog, we will explore the legal remedies available to employees in India and provide you with a roadmap to recover your unpaid salary.

Understanding the Applicable Laws

To effectively navigate the process of recovering your unpaid salary, it's crucial to have a basic understanding of the relevant labor laws in India. The two primary statutes that govern the payment of wages are the Minimum Wage Act and the Payment of Wages Act.

The Minimum Wage Act ensures that every employee is entitled to receive a minimum wage, which varies based on the type of labor performed. On the other hand, the Payment of Wages Act focuses on the prompt and reasonable payment of wages to employees. Together, these laws provide a strong foundation for protecting the rights of workers in India.

Exploring Legal Remedies

1. Step 1: Seek Legal Advice and Send a Notice

The first step in recovering your unpaid salary is to seek legal advice from a credible lawyer who specializes in employment matters. A lawyer with experience in this area can guide you through the process and help you understand your rights and options. They can also assist in drafting a formal notice to your employer, highlighting the consequences of non-payment and demanding immediate payment of your salary.

2. Step 2: Approach the Labor Commissioner

If your employer fails to respond to the legal notice or refuses to pay your salary, you can escalate the matter by approaching the Labor Commissioner. The Labor Commissioner acts as a mediator and can help reconcile the issue between you and your employer. If a resolution cannot be reached, the Labor Commissioner has the authority to refer the case to a court, where legal action can be pursued against your employer.

3. Step 3: File a Lawsuit Under the Industrial Disputes Act

If the intervention of the Labor Commissioner does not result in a satisfactory resolution, you have the option to file a lawsuit under Section 33C of the Industrial Disputes Act. This section allows an employee to file a case in court to recover the money owed to them. The court will assess the validity of your claims and, if convinced, order your employer to pay the outstanding salary. It's important to note that you must file the lawsuit within one year of the salary default, and the court's decision-making process typically takes no longer than three months.

4. Step 4: Consider Arbitration or NCLT

In some cases, employment contracts include an arbitration clause, which provides an alternative dispute resolution mechanism. If your contract contains such a clause, the dispute can be resolved through arbitration. An arbitral tribunal will evaluate the case and make a binding decision.

Alternatively, if the minimum outstanding wage is at least 1 lakh rupees and the maximum unpaid salary is at least 1 crore rupees, you may file a request with the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

Additional Measures for Specific Cases

1. High-Salaried Employees: Managers and Executives

If you are a manager or executive level employee earning above INR 18,000 per month, you have the option to file a case against your employer in a civil court under Order 37 of the Court of Civil Procedure. This process, known as a summary suit, is faster than the traditional civil court procedure and can be an effective means of recovering your unpaid salary. However, it is advisable to exhaust other available options before resorting to legal action in a civil court.

2. Fraudulent or Dishonest Intent

If your employer's non-payment of salary is a result of fraudulent or dishonest intent, you may pursue stronger legal actions. Section 447 of the Companies Act, 2013 lays out the punishment for fraud, including imprisonment ranging from six months to ten years and fines up to three times the amount involved in the fraud. In such cases, you can file a criminal case against the company under the Indian Penal Code.

Important Considerations and Tips

Recovering your unpaid salary can be a complex and time-consuming process. To improve your chances of success, keep the following considerations and tips in mind:

  1. Consult with a lawyer who specializes in employment law and has a track record of handling salary recovery cases.
  2. Keep all relevant documents, such as your employment contract, bank statements, and communication with your employer, as evidence to support your case.
  3. Be prompt in taking action and sending a legal notice to your employer. The sooner you initiate the process, the better your chances of a swift resolution.
  4. Maintain a professional and respectful approach throughout the process. Avoid confrontations or any actions that could harm your case.
  5. If possible, gather support from colleagues or other employees who may have faced similar issues with the employer. Collective action can strengthen your case and increase the chances of a favorable outcome.
  6. Keep copies of all correspondence, notices, and court documents related to your case for future reference.


As an employee in India, you have legal rights and protections when it comes to receiving your salary. If your employer fails to pay you or delays your salary indefinitely, it is crucial to take the necessary steps to recover what is rightfully yours. By understanding the applicable laws and following the recommended legal remedies, you can increase your chances of successfully recovering your unpaid salary. Remember to seek legal advice, approach the Labor Commissioner, file a lawsuit if necessary, and consider additional measures for specific cases. Stay proactive, persistent, and well-informed throughout the process, and with the right legal support, you can achieve a favourable resolution. For the latest updates on employment laws and legal matters, visit LegalStix Law School.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For specific advice tailored to your situation, consult with a qualified legal professional.

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