A top-down code

Context: The central government has codified 29 labour laws into 4 labour codes but, labour legislation is under the concurrent list so the responsibility of framing the rules related to these codes lies with states but they have not framed the rules yet which is defeating the very purpose of these codes.

Labour Code (Wage Code) – 2019

  • After 73 years of independence, work is being done to provide wage security, social security and health security to 50 crore workers, covering organized and unorganized sectors.
  • The guarantee of minimum wages is available to 50 crore workers in organized and unorganized sectors.
  • Review of minimum wages every 5 years.
  • Guarantee of timely payment of wages to all workers
  • Equal remuneration to male and female workers.
  • For the first time, around 40 crore workers of the unorganized sector in the country have got this right.
  • To remove regional disparity in minimum wages the provision of floor wage has been introduced.
  • The determination of minimum wages has been made easy. It will be based on criteria such as skill level and geographical area.
  • From 28.08.2017 Payment of Wages Act has increased the wage ceiling from Rs. 18000 to Rs. 24000.

Social security code 2020

  • Through a small contribution, the benefit of free treatment is available under hospitals and dispensaries of ESIC.
  • The doors of ESIC will now be opened for the workers of all sectors and the unorganised sector workers.
  • Expansion of ESIC hospitals, dispensaries and branches up to the district level.
  • This facility is to be increased from 566 districts to all 740 districts of the country.
  • Even if a single worker is engaged in hazardous work, he would be given ESIC benefit.
  • Opportunity to join ESIC for platform and gig workers engaged in new technology.
  • Plantation workers get the benefit of ESIC.
  • Institutions working in hazardous areas are to be compulsorily registered with ESIC.

Expansion of Social Security

  • The benefit of a pension scheme (EPFO) to all workers of organized, unorganized and self-employed sectors.
  • Creation of social security fund for providing comprehensive social security to the unorganized sector.
  • The requirement of minimum service has been removed for payment of gratuity in the case of fixed-term employees.
  • Employees engaged on fixed terms get the same social security benefit as permanent employees.
  • Creating a national database of workers of the unorganized sector through registration on Portal.
  • Employers employing more than 20 workers to mandatorily report vacancies online.
  • A Universal Account Number (UAN) for ESIC, EPFO and Unorganised Sector workers.
  • Aadhaar-based Universal Account Number (UAN) to ensure seamless portability.

OSH Code (Occupational, Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code) – 2020

  • Various provisions in the OSH Code will ease the lives of the Inter-State Migrant Workers.
  •  Anomalies of the Inter-State Migrant Workers Act, of 1979 have been comprehensively addressed in the OSH Code. Earlier only workers appointed by a contractor were recognized as Inter-State Migrant Workers. However, under the new provisions of the Code, workers can be Aatmanirbhar as they can now register themselves as Inter-State Migrant Workers on the national portal. By this provision, the worker would get a legal identity which would enable them to get the benefits of all social security schemes.
  • A provision has been made for employers to provide a travelling allowance annually to an Inter-State Migrant Worker for undertaking a to-and-fro journey to his native place.
  • Providing of appointment letters to the workers has been made mandatory.
  • Mandatory, free annual health check-ups of the workers to be provided by the employers.
  • For a worker engaged in building and other construction work in one State and moving to another State, benefit from the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Cess fund will be provided.
  • Under the “One Nation – One Ration Card”, an Inter-State Migrant Worker would get a ration facility in the State he is working in and the remaining members of his family would be able to avail of the ration facility in the State where they reside.
  • Mandatory helpline facility in every State for the resolution of Inter-State Migrant Workers’ grievances.
  • A national database is to be created for the Inter-State Migrant Workers.
  • Instead of 240 days, now if a worker has worked 180 days, he shall be entitled to one-day leave for every 20 days of work done.
  • Women’s Empowerment through the Labour Codes
  • Right to women workers to work in all types of establishments.
  • Women have been given the right to work at night with their consent and it has also been ensured that the employer would make adequate arrangements to provide safety and facilities to women workers at night.
  • The Maternity Benefit Act was amended in 2017 to increase the paid Maternity leave for women workers from 12 to 26 weeks and ensure mandatory crèche facility in all establishments having 50 or more workers.

Industrial Relations (IR) Code, 2020

  • In case of job loss, a worker will get benefits under the Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojna.
  • Under the Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojna, a worker of the organized sector who loses his job gets financial aid from the Government. This is a type of unemployment allowance, the benefit of which is admissible to the workers covered under the ESI Scheme.
  •  At the time of retrenchment, a worker would Chapter 8 New Labour Code For New India 20 be provided 15 days’ wages for re-skilling. The wages would be credited directly into the bank account of the worker so as to enable him to learn new skills.
  • Faster justice for the workers through the Tribunal.
  • Workers’ disputes are to be resolved within a year in the Tribunal.
  • Industrial Tribunals to have 2 members to facilitate faster disposal of cases.
  • In industrial establishments, a Trade Union having 51 per cent votes shall be recognised as the sole negotiating union which can make agreements with employers.
  • In industrial establishments in which no trade union gets 51 per cent votes, a negotiating council of trade unions shall be constituted for making agreements with employer.

Mains practice Question

Integrating many labour laws into four comprehensive labour codes is on of the revolutionary step in the field of labour reforms. Analyse. (250 words, 15  marks)

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