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The Indian government passed the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in 2005 to enhance the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing 100 days of wage employment each financial year to every rural household whose adult members demand work under the scheme.

Applying for a job card

In order to get work under MGNREGA, a household has to apply for a MGNREGA job card from their Gram Panchayat (elected village council). Each household is entitled to one job card. However, each card can have any number of names on it from that household.

After applying, a household should be provided with a job card within 15 days. Once a household has a card, they can request MGNREGA work from the Gram Panchayat.

 Phoolwati Devi has a disabled right leg due to polio. Because of her disability she was denied a MGNREGA job card. Thanks to support from her local Disabled People's Organisation, formed by PACS partner Chetna Vikas, she was granted her job card and finally employment.

100 days of work

Each household can request up to 100 days of work per year. This can be broken up into different blocks (minimum time is 14 days) or taken all at once. It can also be divided between household members.

Work should be provided within 15 days of a request being made to the Gram Panchayat. If a Gram Panchayat cannot provide work, an unemployment allowance should be given.


The amount paid to labourers varies between states. However, it will not be less than the wage of an agricultural labourer (reviewed every 6 months).

Payment for work is given through the household’s bank account, not in cash. It should be received by the household within 7 days of completing a job, and no later than 14 days. If payment is received late, compensation should be given.

Work under MGNREGA

Under the Act every Gram Panchayat (village council) should have an annual MGNREGA plan that includes a list of all the projects that need to be carried out in the community along with project plans (this is called a “shelf of projects”). The Gram Panchayat should also have enough money and sufficient work plans to make 100 days of work available to every MGNREGA-registered family in the community.

The types of unskilled work which households are eligible to undertake under the MGNREGA scheme is could include constructing roads, dams, wells, plantations or developing land.

Work should be within 5km of a worker’s residence. If it is over 5km away, a 10% increase in wage is given.

MGNREGA work sites

Each MGNREGA work site should be overseen by a work site mate. All MGNREGA work sites should have:

  • A first aid box
  • A shady place to rest
  • Drinking water
  • A sign board detailing the work, cost and number of days
  • An attendance register (or “muster roll”)
  • A crèche (this is only required if there are at least five female workers on site who have children of below 6 years of age)

 Basanti carries her child while working at a MGNREGA site in Madhya Pradesh. The site does not have a creche, as per the norms of MGNREGA.

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