The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government is likely to push the Code on Wages Bill for passage in the monsoon session of Parliament beginning next month, the labour ministry revealed. The Code would ensure universal minimum wage for all industries and workers. It will also cover those workers who are getting monthly pay of higher than Rs 18,000. At present laws on wages do not cover workers getting monthly wage of more than Rs 18,000. “We are aiming for that,” replied Labour Secretary M Sathiyavathy when asked whether the Code on Wages Bill would be pushed for passage in the forthcoming session of Parliament next month. The ministerial panel on labour issues headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has already approved the Code on Wages. The ministry is in the process of getting the draft law approved from the Union Cabinet after vetting by the law ministry.
The Code on Wages Bill seeks to empower the Centre to set a minimum wage across sectors and states will have to maintain that. However, states will be able to provide for higher minimum wage in their jurisdiction than fixed by the central government. Besides, the minimum wage would be applicable on all classes of workers. At present, it is applicable for scheduled industries or establishments in the law. Similarly, the universal minimum wage would be applicable for all workers irrespective of their pay. At present, the minimum wage rates fixed by the Centre and states are applicable to workers getting up to Rs 18,000 monthly pay. The proposed Code on Wages will subsume the Minimum Wages Act of 1948, the Payment of Wages Act of 1936, the Payment of Bonus Act of 1965 and the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976. The labour ministry is in the process of condensing 44 labour laws into four codes– wages, industrial relations, social security and safety, health and working conditions.
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The ministerial panel headed by Jaitley is also deliberating upon the Code on Industrial Relations, which will subsume Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Trade Unions Act, 1926, and the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946. On the Code on Industrial Relations, Sathiyavathy said, “We have to give one more presentation to the Group of Ministers. We have to get time for that from Finance Ministry.”