Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s principal labour reform proposals, aimed at ensuring ease of doing business by merging 44 extant Acts into four codes, are unlikely to be passed in the ensuring Budget session of Parliament.
And this is not just because of the likely face-off between the government and a united opposition over the JNU row; the mandatory Cabinet approvals for any of the major Bills like Code on Industrial Relations, Code on Wages, Small Factories Bill and Employees’ Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Bill have yet to come. The Budget session starts on February 23.
The labour ministry is still working on the codes on social security and welfare, and code on safety and working conditions.
While the labour ministry has already circulated a Cabinet note on the Small Factories Bill and the Code on Wages for the approval of the government’s highest decision-making body, the Code on Industrial Relations and EPFO Bill are still being vetted by the law ministry. The EPF Bill seeks to provide the subscribers of the retirement fund body an option of choosing between EPF and the New Pension System (NPS).
“The vetting by the legislative affairs of the law ministry for the two Bills are pending for quite sometime now,” sources in the labour ministry said, adding that all clarifications sought by them have been clarified.
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Bill, on which a notice in Rajya Sabha was given for discussion and passage in the previous two sessions without luck, could be passed in the Budget session. The Bill proposes banning all kinds of child labour under the age of 14 years, except in non-hazardous family enterprises or the entertainment industry, but only after school hours and during vacations.
In the winter session, the Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was passed that enhances pay eligibility limit of an employee for bonus to Rs 21,000 per month from Rs 10,000, and the monthly bonus calculation ceiling to Rs 7,000 per month from Rs 3,500 a month earlier.
The proposed reforms were tipped to be the biggest labour reforms since Independence.