The Draft Code on Wages Central Rules, 2019 were placed on the website of the labour ministry on November 1 for public consultation.
The government has reissued draft rules under the labour code on wages that gives minimum wages a statutory right for all workers.
Through the notification, the government has asked stakeholders to raise objections and offer suggestions within a period of 45 days which “may be received from any person with respect to the said draft notification before expiry of the period specified above, will be considered by the central government”.
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After both the Houses passed the wage code, the President assented to the Code on August 8, 2019. The Draft Code on Wages Central Rules, 2019 were placed on the website of the labour ministry on November 1 for public consultation. After the stipulated time, the ‘final’ rules were finalised and sent to the legislative department of the law ministry for vetting.
“The legislative department was advised to pre-publish the draft rules in the official gazette for inviting comments of public or shareholders. Hence, the gazette notification,” said a source.
The wage code universalises the provisions of minimum wages and timely payment of wages to all employees, irrespective of the sector and wage ceiling. At present, the provisions of both the Minimum Wages Act and Payment of Wages Act apply on workers below a particular wage ceiling working in scheduled employments only. The wage code will ensure the “right to sustenance” for every worker and intends to increase the legislative protection of minimum wage from existing about 40% to 100% workforce.
It also introduces the concept of statutory floor wage which will be computed based on minimum living conditions and extended qualitative living conditions across the country for all workers.
The criteria laid down for determination of minimum wages in the latest draft is also the same as earlier – a net intake of 2,700 calories per day per consumption unit, 66 metre of cloth per year per standard working class family, which includes a spouse and two children apart from the earning worker – an equivalent to three adult consumption units.
Housing rent expenditure to constitute 10% of the food and clothing expenditure; fuel, electricity and other miscellaneous items of expenditure to constitute 20% minimum wage and expenditure for children education, medical requirement, recreation and expenditure on contingencies to constitute 25% of minimum wage.
“When the rate of wages for a day is fixed, then such amount shall be divided by eight for fixing the rate of wages for an hour and multiplied by twenty six for fixing the rate of wages for a month and in such division and multiplication the factors of one-half and more than one-half shall be rounded as next figure and the factors less than one-half shall be ignored,” the draft said.
While fixing the minimum rate of wages, the central government shall divide the concerned geographical area into three categories – metropolitan area, non-metropolitan area and the rural area.
Some say, issuing the same draft is a ploy to delay the implementation of the code that will cause more pain to the employers, who are reeling under the pain of Covid-19 pandemic.
“It appears that the central government is not committed to implement the enacted legislation,” said XLRI professor and labour economist KR Shyam Sundar.
CITU’s president Dr Hemlata also said that the reissuance of the same draft is meant to benefit the employers as they would, for at least 45 days, continue with the same wages.