Parliament’s Winter Session: Govt looks to get two employee-friendly labour codes passed

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New Delhi | Published: December 26, 2018 2:23:46 AM

The labour code on wages proposes making minimum wage a statutory right for all workers. It empowers the Centre to set benchmark minimum wages for different regions across the country.

labour laws, labour industry, economy, indiaCodes on wages and operational safety, health & working conditions to be approved by Cabinet this week.

Just a few months before the general election, the Narendra Modi government has expedited work on two employee-friendly labour codes with a view to ensuring their passage in the ongoing session of Parliament that will last till January 8. Sources in the labour ministry said the code on wages and the one on operational safety, health and working conditions (OSH) would be approved by the Cabinet this week, following which the two would be immediately introduced in Parliament for discussion and passage.

The labour code on wages proposes making minimum wage a statutory right for all workers. It empowers the Centre to set benchmark minimum wages for different regions across the country. The code, which will subsume four existing central labour legislations — the Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Payment of Wages Act, 1936; the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965; and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 — also proposes setting up of a committee which will set and revise the minimum wages from time to time.

The OSH code amalgamates 14 Acts relating to safety and health standards, health and working conditions, welfare provision for the employees, leave and hours of work. It prescribes that every employer shall ensure that the workplace is free from hazards that cause or are likely to cause injury or occupational disease to the employees. Every employer should also ensure periodical medical examination and prescribed tests of the employee employed in the establishment.

The wage code was introduced in the Lok Sabha in August 2017, but was referred to the parliamentary standing committee. Sources said after incorporating the recommendations of the committee, a new wage code Bill has been sent to the Cabinet for its approval. “Since both the codes are friendly to the employees, we hope to get them passed in the ongoing session of Parliament,” a government functionary said.

Immediately after taking charge in May 2014, the Modi-led government had embarked on a major labour reform initiative, touted to be the biggest since Independence, proposing to amalgamate 44 extant central Acts into four codes, aimed at ensuring ease of doing business and compliances.

However, the two other crucial labour codes — the code on industrial relations and the code on social security — may not at all be tabled during the tenure of the present dispensation. Apart from a couple of industry-friendly initiatives aimed at improving ease of doing business that include extending the scope of fixed-term labour to all sectors of the economy, the BJP-led government could not complete its labour reforms agenda.

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