Labour Ministry Plans Law To Cut Paperwork

New Delhi, November 8 | Updated: Nov 9 2003, 05:30am hrs
In a major initiative to simplify procedures for entrepreneurs, the labour ministry is working on a legislation to bring down the number of registers to be filled by units.

The proposed legislation, to be called Labour Laws (maintenance of register, submission of annual return, notices, etc) Act, intends to do away with more than a dozen registers and the filing of returns.

At present, these registers are needed to be maintained under such rules as the contract labour (regulation & abolition) rules of 1971, the child labour (prohibition & regulation) rules of 1988, the equal remuneration rules, the inter-state migrant workmen (regulation of employment & conditions of service) central rules of 1980, the Building & Other Construction Workers Act of 1996, the minimum wages (central) rules of 1950, the payment of wages (railways) rules of 1938, the payment of wages (mines) rules of 1936, the payment of wages (air transport service) rules of 1968, etc.

The proposed legislation is based on the recommendations of a working group constituted by the ministry to suggest simplification of the existing forms for returns and registers.

The group has noted that under the laws related to contract labour, equal remuneration, etc, it is mandatory on the part of employers to maintain registers.

The group has recommended that the registers of employed persons under such laws, except the Sales Promotion Employees (condition of service) Act of 1976, and the Working Journalists & Other Newspaper Employees (condition of service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act of 1955, can be consolidated into one register.

The group has also recommended that the muster rolls, wage register and register of other deductions prescribed under the five kinds of rules can be consolidated into one register. The rules are under the Payment of Wages Act of 1936, the Minimum Wages Act, the CL (R&A) Act, the ISMW (RE&CS) Act and the BOCW (RE&CS) Act. Further, the group has suggested that the annual return prescribed under all these enactments be consolidated into one common form of annual return.

Some enactments provide for display of abstracts of Acts and rules at the workplace. The group wants this practice to be stopped. The group has further favoured suitable provisions to enable the employer to furnish annual returns, notices, etc, to concerned authorities through e-mails and floppy and to maintain the prescribed registers on computers.

The group has also observed that there are more than 15 labour laws in the Central sphere and almost an equal number, if not more, in the state spheres, prescribing a variety of returns which the employers must furnish and registers that they must maintain. Such unremunerative activities are especially vexatious for small and medium enterprises. A reduction in the number of returns and registers through consolidation and simplification would result into better compliance by employers, it said.