A Bill seeking to remove imprisonment as punishment for violating the provisions of the Apprentices Act, 1961 and allowing employers to fix the hours of work and leave as per their discretion or policy was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
The Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was passed by voice vote with a majority of speakers favouring the legislation, saying it is aimed at enhancing the skills of youth and make them employable.
It had been passed by the Lok Sabha in the last session.
Some members, however, had reservations saying certain provisions in the Bill are “draconian” as employers have been given full powers to deal with apprentices in any manner.
Replying to the debate, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said the Bill was being brought to implement the Apprenticeship Policy by March 2015 which would help impart skills to youths and make them employable.
He said the government had brought the policy keeping transparency in view and it would involve all stakeholders.
Earlier, Satish Chandra Misra (BSP) said the government should not give so much power to the employers to deal with apprentices. “Don’t make such provisions which are draconian or do away with the penal provisions,” he said.
Naresh Agarwal (SP) and CPI(M) members Tapan Sen and P. Rajeeve also made some observations on providing protection to apprentices and said the penalty of Rs. 500 was not adequate deterrent for employers on violating the Act.
The Bill seeks to amend certain definitions, increases the minimum age for apprentices in hazardous industries and removes imprisonment as a punishment for violating the provisions of the Act.