The St Stephens Hospital management, which sacked some of its support staff from its Gurgaon facility after the coronavirus outbreak, has agreed in the Delhi High Court to pay these employees an amount equal to their salary for March and April.
Justice Rekha Palli on Monday held that the hospital would be bound by its statement to pay these amounts to its sacked employees for the months of March and April and listed the matter for further hearing on May 4.
The order came on the ex-employees’ plea challenging their termination by the hospital management, on March 30, after it shut down its Gurgaon facility.
The ministries of labour and home affairs, represented by central government standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia, supported the petitioners and said that their services should not have been terminated at this stage when the country was facing the COVID-19 pandemic and there was urgent requirement of people engaged in healthcare.
A similar stand was taken by the Delhi government’s labour department which was made a party on the oral request of the petitioners.
The hospital management, in its defence, said the termination had nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic and it was a decision taken in the first week of March, much before the government issued advisories not to terminate casual or contractual staff.
The petitioners, in their plea, contended that the decision was in violation of the advisories issued by the labour ministry on March 20 and March 23 which had “specifically directed that persons engaged contractually or casually with either public or private establishments not be terminated during the coronavirus outbreak”.
The petition, moved by the five ex-support staff of St Stephens Hospital healthcare facility in Gurgaon, contended that the decision was taken without giving any notice or opportunity of hearing to them.
The decision was taken on March 30 by the management of St Stephens Hospital, located at Tis Hazari here, as it was closing its Gurgaon facility, the plea said.
However, no one else was terminated by the hospital, the petition claimed.
The petitioners said that due to their termination, they have been left without any means of livelihood during this crisis situation.
“That such termination at this catastrophic juncture is inhumane and in the teeth of the two advisories,” their petition said.
They sought quashing of the March 30 decision taken by the hospital management or a direction to continue employing them while COVID-19 pandemic subsists in the country.