Here's good news for teachers in the state. The Bombay high court has ruled that teachers of recognised schools and colleges are "employees" as per the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, and therefore eligible for gratuity.
In an order passed recently, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court held that section 2(e) of the Payment of Gratuity Act was amended in April 2009, and the amended definition was wide enough to cover teachers.
The issue of entitlement of teachers to gratuity was raked up by the Vidarbha Youth Welfare Institution, which runs Social Work College at Amravati. It all began when Pradipkumar Lambhate retired as principal of the college in May 2005. In September 2006, Lambhate applied to the Assistant Labour Commissioner (ALC), Amravati seeking payment of gratuity. Acting on his plea, in May 2010, the ALC directed the institution to pay Rs3.5 lakh and another Rs1.5 lakh towards interest.
After an appellate authority upheld the ALC's order, the institution moved the high court. The institution argued that teachers were not entitled to gratuity, as they were not covered under the definition of "employee", as provided in the Payment of Gratuity Act, and therefore the legislation was not applicable to them.
Justice RK Deshpande, however, found that an amendment was made in the legislation in 2009 and the definition of "employee" was widened. The judge dismissed the petition holding the new definition of "employee" was wide enough to include teachers within its ambit and teachers were therefore entitled to gratuity.