Frequently Asked Questions

How is the MGNREGA different from any other government scheme?
The MGNREGA guarantees 100 days of wage employment per household per year in rural areas of districts selected for the Act’s implementation. Unlike any other government scheme, it gives a legal guarantee of wage employment.
Who can apply for work under the MGNREGA?

Any adult living in a rural area in the 200 districts identified for the first phase of implementation of the MGNREGA can apply for work. That is, the benefits of the Act are not restricted to families living below the poverty line.
Applicants have to be residents of the gram panchayat where they are applying for work. Migrant workers who have a permanent residence in the gram panchayat can also apply for work.
Applications for work are subject to one limitation: All adult members of a particular household will get only up to 100 days of work in a financial year, under the MGNREGA. That is, if there are two adult members in a household, the number of days they will be employed will not exceed 100 days in the financial year.

How is a ‘household’ defined under the MGNREGA?
The Act defines a ‘household’ as members of a family related to each other by blood, marriage or adoption. Members should normally reside together and share meals, or hold a common ration card.
Note: Members of a joint family who live together and share a ration card may be treated as a single household.

What are the steps to be followed to apply for work?
There are two steps. First, a household has to register with the gram panchayat. Then the adult members of the household have to apply for work.
Note: The unit of registration is the household, while applications for work are individual applications.
While registration of the household must be done only once every five years, individual applications for work have to be submitted each time work is sought.
After registration of the household, a job card will be issued to the household. This card will record details of the number of days a person has worked, wages received, unemployment allowances received, and so on. The card carries a photograph of the applicant.
Applications for work have to be submitted to the applicant’s gram panchayat or the state employment guarantee scheme’s block-level programme officer. Both are duty-bound to accept valid applications and issue dated receipts for each application.
Is there any fee for getting a job card? Do applicants have to pay for the photographs?
No fee has to be paid for the job card or the photographs.
Can a disabled person apply for work? Can children and aged persons apply?
Children cannot apply for work under the MGNREGA. The lower age limit is 18 years; no upper age limit has been specified. There is no special clause for disabled people. However, the rules of employment guarantee schemes to be framed by state governments could incorporate provisions for the employment of disabled persons.
Note: The Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 states that 3% of all poverty alleviation schemes should be for the benefit of persons with disabilities.

Should an application for work be submitted only when employment is required? Can it be submitted in advance? Can a group application be submitted?
Yes. The MGNREGA allows submission of advance and group applications. That is, one application can be given, singly or jointly, for different periods of the year in which employment is sought.
How and when will an applicant know where and when s/he has to report for work?
Applicants will be told where and when to report for work within 15 days of applying for work. The information will be given by means of a letter and by means of a public notice displayed on the notice board of the gram panchayat and at the office of the block-level programme officer.
Can applicants choose the time, place and nature of work given to them?
No. They have to accept whatever employment is given to them by the gram panchayat or programme officer.
As far as possible, work will be provided within 5 km of the applicant’s residence. If not, work will be provided at least within the block. In this case, applicants have to be given daily transport and living allowances equivalent to 10% of the wage rate.

What happens when an applicant fails to report for work?
If an applicant fails to report for work within 15 days of being informed that work is available, he or she will not be eligible for unemployment allowance for a period of three months.
What are the wages payable? How are they calculated? Can wages be paid in foodgrain? Do women get less wages?
People who work under the MGNREGA are entitled to get the statutory minimum wage applicable to agricultural workers in that part of the state, unless the central government overrides this by notifying a different wage rate. If the central government notifies a wage rate, it has to be a minimum of Rs 100 per day.
Wages can be paid in cash or kind. The latter would normally be in the form of foodgrain. However, at least 25% of the total wage has to be paid in cash.
Wages are calculated on a daily or piece-rate basis. The daily wage rate is for seven hours of work. Likewise, if wages are paid on a piece-rate basis, the schedule of rates has to be such that a person working for seven hours would normally earn the minimum wage applicable.
Women and men have to get the same wages.

How often are wages paid?
Wages are to be paid every week. In any case, they have to be paid not later than a fortnight after the date on which the work was done. A state government may prescribe that a part of the wages should be paid in cash on a daily basis.
What happens if wages are not paid in time, or if they are not paid regularly?
If people do not receive their wages in time, they are entitled to compensation according to the provisions of the Payment of Wages Act 1936. Payment of compensation may not happen as a matter of course. An application may have to be given to the programme officer. The programme officer is the grievance redressal officer at the block level. At the district level, the district programme coordinator is responsible for the disposal of grievances.
What is the role of the gram sabha?
It can recommend works to be undertaken, to the gram panchayat. Resolutions of the gram sabha have to be given priority in the planning of works by the gram panchayat and the programme officer.
Further, the gram sabha has the power to:
• Monitor the execution of works.
• Conduct regular social audits of works undertaken.