The Labour Code Bills (23 September 2020)
The Labour Code Bills (23 September 2020)
Why in News:
The Rajya Sabha on Wednesday passed 3 Labour Code Bills for the welfare and protection of the workers.
The three labour code bills aimed at labour welfare reforms covering more than 50 crores organized and unorganized workers in the country. This also includes gig, platform and also opens up the doors for social security to those in the self-employment sector. These three Bills are (i) Industrial Relations Code, 2020 (ii) Code on Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code, 2020 & (iii) Social Security Code, 2020.
In June last year, the government decided to condense 44 existing labour laws into four codes which involve social security, occupational safety, health and working conditions and industrial relations.
The three Bills that merge 25 laws were passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. The first of the four codes proposed by the government, the Code on Wages, was passed by Parliament in 2019.
Summary of the Debate
Salient features of the Bill:
Industrial Relations Code, 2020:
- Reskilling Fund: To set up a re-skilling fund for training of retrenched workers with contribution of the employer of an amount equal to 15 days last drawn by the worker.
- For legal strike: No person employed in an industrial establishment shall go on strike without a 60-day notice and during the pendency of proceedings before a Tribunal and sixty days after the conclusion of such proceedings.
- Fixed Term Employment: After recognition of Fixed Term Employment, workers will get the option of Fixed Term Employment instead of contract labour.
- National database: Making a national database of migrant workers.
- Compensation: In the event of the death of a worker or injury to a worker due to an accident at his workplace, at least 50 % share of the penalty would be given. This amount would be in addition to Employees Compensation.
- Trade Unions: Provision has been made for giving recognition to Trade Unions at Central and State level. This recognition has been given in the labour laws for the first time and after this recognition, Trade Unions would be able to contribute more affirmatively and more effectively at the Central and State level.
Code on Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code, 2020:
- Appointment Letter: A legal right for getting Appointment Letter given to workers for the first time.
- Health checkup: Free health checkup once a year by the employer for workers which are more than a certain age.
- Gender Parity: To employ women in all establishments for all types of work. They can also work at night, that is, beyond 7 PM and before 6 AM subject to the conditions relating to safety, holiday, working hours and their consent
- Inclusion of inter-state migrant workers: An Inter-State Migrant Worker has been provided with the portability to avail benefits in the destination State in respect of ration and availing benefits of building and other construction worker cess.
Social Security Code, 2020:
- National Social Security Board: It will recommend to the central government for formulating suitable schemes for different sections of unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers
- Social Security Fund: A “Social Security Fund” will be created on the financial side in order to implement these schemes.
- Social security for gig workers: Work to bring newer forms of employment created with the changing technology like “platform worker or gig worker” into the ambit of social security has been done in the Social Security Code.
- Gratuityfor Fixed Term Employee: Provision for Gratuity has been made for Fixed Term Employee and there would not be any condition for minimum service period for this.
- The companies may introduce arbitrary service conditions for workers.
- More flexibility to employers for hiring and firing workers without government permission.
- Restrictions on strikes and demonstrations led to assault on the freedom of industrial actions.
- Making women to work during night time raises the issue like women safety.
- The new laws related to layoffs and closures apply only to companies with more than 300 workers, leaving out millions of workers in smaller firms.
- This is a watershed moment for India’s labour law regime. There were some labour policy changes that actually made flexibility of hiring and firing was almost done away with. The employers had the freedom with responsibility of retrenching employees. Since then the government have tried to reform the labour laws, make it more flexible, make it more industry friendly even while ensuring that labours and workers do not lose their protection or safety net.
Important points made by the Guests
Shankar Aggarwal, Former Secretary, Ministry of Labour & Employment, GoI
Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI
In terms of gender parity, they have done three things:
A.K. Bhattacharya, Editorial Director, Business Standard