Centre wants states to review labour laws for harmony with new central codes

By: |
January 15, 2021 4:15 AM

Sources said the union labour ministry has decided to appoint legal advisors soon, mandating them to examine whether the state laws are in sync with the central codes. If the harmony is found to be lacking, then states will be asked to either amend them or take Presidential assent for their respective laws once again.

New rules under the labour codes will be implemented anytime after the current month.

To bring uniformity in the labour laws across the country, the Centre is planning to ask the states to modify, if necessary, their laws to ensure that they are in consonance with the new central labour codes.

Sources said the union labour ministry has decided to appoint legal advisors soon, mandating them to examine whether the state laws are in sync with the central codes. If the harmony is found to be lacking, then states will be asked to either amend them or take Presidential assent for their respective laws once again.

New rules under the labour codes will be implemented anytime after the current month. “Any state law which is not in consonance with the central law needs to be amended. So, we are appointing legal consultants who will look at all the laws in the states and assess whether these laws are in consonance with the new codes. And if they are not, we will take it up directly with the states and point out the dissonance between the labour code,” a senior union labour ministry official said.

During the early days of the pandemic, in order to lure investment and make operations of business viable, some states went overboard and announced sweeping changes in labour laws including scrapping of some provisions of the relevant laws for three years or more, much beyond the permissible limit of three months, forcing the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to write to the Prime Minister seeking him to intervene so that country’s international commitments on the labour front is upheld.

While this could be one of the reasons for the Centre to try to bring in uniformity between the Central legislations and the state laws, it may also have stemmed from the apprehension that state governments may deviate from the reform path of the Centre, as labour is a concurrent subject on which the Centre as well as states can make laws.

“This is an irony. On the one hand, you are leaving it to the states to compete for foreign capital and on the other, you want a synchronised legislative system. So, progressive states will lose their labour advantage,” said XLRI professor K R Shyam Sundar.

Incidentally, the new codes have given enough legroom to states to make suitable changes from the new central legislation. One such leeway is in the Industrial Relations Code where the Centre has granted the states power to allow industrial establishments to resort to lay-offs, closure and retrenchment even if the establishment has more than 300 workers.

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