PRIORITY OF WAGES
Priority of wages over other debts
31. (1) Where by order of a court made upon the application of any person holding a mortgage, charge, lien or decree (hereinafter referred to as .the secured creditor.) or in the exercise of rights under a debenture the property of any person (hereinafter referred to as .the person liable.) liable under any of the provisions of this Act to pay the wages due to any employee or to pay money due to any contractor for labour is sold, or any money due to the person liable is attached or garnished, the court or the receiver or manager shall not authorize payment of the proceeds of the sale, or of the money so attached or garnished, to the secured creditor or the debenture holder until the court or the receiver or manager shall have ascertained and caused to be paid, out of such proceeds or money, the wages of such employee, or the money due to any contractor for labour under a contract between him and the person liable, which the person liable was liable to pay at the date of such sale, attachment or garnishment:
Provided that this section shall only apply to the sale of a place of employment on which—
(a) any employee to whom wages are due as aforesaid;
(b) any employee to whom wages are due by such contractor for labour as aforesaid;
(c) any contractor for labour to whom money is owed on account of the sub-contract by the contractor for labour as aforesaid,
was employed or worked at the time when such wages were earned or such money accrued due, and to the proceeds of the sale of any products of such place of employment and of any movable property therein used in connection with such employment and to any money due to the person liable on account of work performed by such employee or contractor for labour or derived from the sale of the products of such work:
Provided further that—
(a) where the person liable is an employer the total amount of the wages of any employee to which priority over the claim of a secured creditor is given by this section shall not exceed the amount due by the employer to the employee as wages for any four consecutive months’ work;
(b) where the person liable is a principal and where the wages are claimed from such principal under section 33 the total amount of the wages of any employees to which priority over the claim of a secured creditor is given by this section shall not exceed the amount due by the principal to the contractor at the date of the sale, attachment or garnishment unless the contractor is also a contractor for labour;
(c) where the person liable is a contractor or sub-contractor who owes money to a contractor for labour the total amount due to such contractor for labour to which priority over the claim of a secured creditor is given by this section shall not exceed the amount due by such contractor for labour to his employees (including any further contractor for labour under such first- mentioned contractor for labour) for any four consecutive months’ work.
(2) In this section, except for the second proviso, .wages. includes termination and lay-off benefits, annual leave pay, sick leave pay, public holiday pay and maternity allowance.
Reference by the court to Director General
32. (1) For the purposes of ascertaining the amount due to any employee or sub-contractor for labour under section 31, the court or the receiver or manager may refer the question to the Director General with a request that he hold an inquiry thereinto and forward his findings in respect thereof to the court or the receiver or manager, and the Director General shall comply with any such request.
(2) For the purpose of any inquiry under subsection (1) the Director General shall have all the powers conferred upon him by paragraph 70(f) and section 80 shall have effect as if the inquiry were being held under section 69.