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January 7, 2020

India drafts new labour codes on wages, health & safety

India's Ministry of Labour and Employment has drafted four new labour codes in a move aimed at simplifying wages, industrial relations, occupational safety, and health and working conditions.

By Michelle Russell

India’s Ministry of Labour and Employment has drafted four new labour codes in a move aimed at simplifying wages, industrial relations, occupational safety, and health and working conditions.

In-line with recommendations made by the Second National Commission on Labour, the Ministry says in its year-end review that it has taken steps aimed at “simplifying, amalgamating and rationalising” existing central labour laws into four codes.

The four labour codes are as follows:

#1: Labour Code on Wages: The Code on Wages, 2019 subsumes four existing Laws, viz. the Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Payment of Wages Act, 1936; the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965; and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. It has been passed by both Houses of the Parliament and assented to by the President on 8 August 2019.

#2: Labour Code on Industrial Relations: The draft Labour Code on Industrial Relations subsumes the existing Laws viz. The Trade Union Act, 1926; The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946; The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The Code has been introduced in the Lok Sabha on 28 November 2019.

#3: Labour Code on Social Security & Welfare: The draft Code on Social Security subsumes nine Labour Acts like: The Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923, The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, The Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 etc. The Code has been introduced in Lok Sabha on 11 December 2019.

#4: Labour Code on Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions: The Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code, 2019 subsumes the 13 Labour Acts like: The Factories Act, 1948, The Plantation Labour Act, 1951, The Mines Act, 1952, The Building and Other Constructions Workers’ (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 etc. It was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 23 July 2019. Presently, the Code has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour for examination.

“[The] Ministry of Labour and Employment has taken a number of initiatives for bringing transparency and accountability through reforms and enforcement of Labour Laws, with the objective of strengthening the safety, security, health, social security for every worker and bringing ease of compliance for running an establishment to catalyse creation of employment opportunities,” the Ministry said in its review. 

“These initiatives include governance reforms through use of e-governance measures and legislative reforms by simplifying, amalgamating and rationalising the existing labour laws into four labour codes. Two mega pension schemes were launched during the year for old age protection and social security of unorganised workers.”

The Ministry says it has developed a unified Web Portal ‘Shram Suvidha Portal’ to bring transparency and accountability in enforcement of labour laws and ease complexity of compliance.

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