Tag Archives: Labour Laws

ESIC limit

Mahashtra Government has vide its notification dated 10th October, 2020 specified that Employees State Insurance Corporation will be applicable to all classes of establishments employing 10 or more persons. This notification comes into effect from 1st October, 2020. Accordingly those classes of establishments as stipulated who are employing 10 or more persons and not yet registered under the ESIC Act, are required to register on their portal. This public notice gives more details of the same.

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labour bills passed

https://www.pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1658197

The Rajya Sabha in its sitting today passed three labour codes namely, Industrial Relations Code, 2020 (ii) Code on Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code, 2020 & (iii) Social Security Code, 2020. With this, the decks for enactment of these codes have been cleared as Lok Sabha had passed these Bills yesterday.

Speaking during the discussions on the bills, Shri Gangwar described the Bills as historic game changer which will harmonize the needs of workers, industries and other related parties.  He said that these Labour Codes will prove to be an important milestone for the welfare of the workers in the country.  Shri Gangwar informed that from 2014 till now our Government has taken many steps for welfare of the workers and through these Labour Codes the dream of an overall labour reform is being realized.  He emphasized that the OSH Code envisages safe working environment for workers especially women.  The Minister added that an effective dispute resolution mechanism is being ensured through Industrial Relations Code providing for time-bound dispute resolution system in every institution.  The Minister further said that the Social Security Code provides a framework to include organized and unorganized sector workers under the ambit of comprehensive social security.  The Social Security Code contains provisions relating to EPFO, ESIC, building construction workers, maternity benefits, gratuity and social security fund for unorganized sector workers.  “Through this Code, we are moving towards fulfilling the Prime Minister’s vision of Universal Social Security”,  Shri Gangwar added.

Shri Gangwar further said that under the dynamic leadership of visionary Prime Minister Shri Narender Modi, this Government has taken number of steps to fulfill the dreams of Baba Saheb Ambedkar from 2014 onwards and gave equal importance to ‘Shramev Jayate’ and ‘Satyamev Jayate’.  My Ministry has been working tirelessly to provide social security and other welfare measures to both organized and unorganized workers including during this COVID-19 pandemic.  He added that unprecedented steps were taken by Government and launched many welfare measures such as increasing the maternity leave for our sisters from 12 weeks to 26 weeks; women were allowed to work in mines under Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana.  Formal employment was increased with portability in EPFO and welfare schemes and expansion of ESIC facilities to our fellow citizens.

Dwelling upon amalgamation 29 labour laws into four Labour Codes, Shri Gangwar said that extensive consultation was undertaken by the Government before finalizing the Labour Codes.  These include discussions in nine Tripartite Meetings, 4 sub-committees, 10 inter-ministerial consultations, Trade Unions, Employers’ Associations, State Governments, Experts, International Bodies and also invited public suggestions/comments from people by placing them in public domain for 2-3 months.

The Minister stressed that the objective of labour reforms is to have their labour laws in line with the changing world of workplace and provide an effective and transparent system, balancing the needs of workers and industries.  He further said that in this journey of 73 years of independence, the atmosphere, technological phase, mode of working and the nature of work has changed drastically in today’s new India. With this change, if India does not make the required changes in its labour laws, then we will be left behind in both the welfare of the workers and the development of industries”, Shri Gangwar said.

He emphasized that the structure of welfare and rights of Atmanirbhar Shramik is based on four pillars. Regarding First Pillar which is salary protection, the Minister said that even after 73 years of independence, and despite having 44 labour laws, only about 30 percent of India’s 50 crore workers had the legal right to minimum wages  and all the workers were not paid on time. “For the first time, our government has worked to correct this discrepancy and has given the legal right to all the 50 crore organized and unorganized sector workers to get minimum wages and timely wages”, Shri Gangwar added.

The second important pillar of labour safety, Shri Gangwr said  is to give him a safe working environment to protect his health and lead a happy life. For this, he said, for the first time in the OSH Code, annual health check-up has been provided for workers above a certain age. Additionally, to keep the standards related to safety effective and dynamic, they can be replaced with changing technology by the National Occupational Safety & Health Board.    In order to provide a safe environment, workers and employers should decide together, for this, a safety committee has been provided for in all institutions. 

He also informed the House that the OSH Code reduced the minimum qualification from 240 days to 180 days for leave. The Bill also provides for the payment of at least 50 percent of the penalty imposed on an employer for injury or death at the work place, to the aggrieved worker, in addition to other benefits. With all these provisions, an effort has been made to give workers a safe working environment.

Stating that women should have the freedom to do the same work as men, he said that for the first time, a provision has been  made that women can work in any type of institution at night as per their choice. “However, the employer will have to make all necessary security arrangements, as determined by the appropriate government”, he added

He informed that the third important pillar for workers is Comprehensive Social Security.   In line with this resolution, he said the scope of ESIC and EPFO ​​is being extended in the Social Security Code. To increase the scope of ESIC, a provision has been made that now its coverage will be in all 740 districts of the country. In addition to this, the option of ESIC will also be for plantation workers, unorganized sector workers, gigs and platform workers, and institutions with less than 10 workers. If there is a risky work in an institute,  that institute will inevitably be brought under the purview of ESIC even if it is a sole labourer. Similarly, to increase the scope of EPFO, the schedule of the institutions has been removed in the current law and now all those institutions which have 20 or more workers will come under the ambit of the EPF. Apart from this, the option of EPFO ​​for institutions with less than 20 workers and self-employed workers is also being given in the Social Security Code.

To provide social security to 40 crore unorganized sector workers, he informed, provision for “Social Security Fund” has been made. Through this fund, social security schemes will be made for workers and gigs and platform workers working in the unorganized sector and plans will be formulated to provide all kinds of social security benefits such as death insurance, accident insurance, maternity benefit and pension etc. to these 40 crore workers. “Through these efforts we have taken an important step towards fulfilling our pledge of Universal Social Security coverage”, he said.

Talking about Fourth Pillar, Shri Gangwar said that we have simplified and made effective IR Code so that peace and harmony prevail in the industrial units. On bringing Fixed Term Employment to the IR Code, engaged for a short period of their time and do not get service conditions, leave, salary, social security, gratuity etc. like regular employees, he said we have also ensured that Fixed Term Employees’ service conditions, salary, leave and social security will also be the same as a Regular Employee. In addition, Fixed Term Employee has also been given the right to pro-rata Gratuity.

Shri Gangwar also emphasized that the provisions of Strike in IR Code do not take back the right of any workers to go on strike. Prior to going on the strike, the 14-day notice period obligation has been imposed on every institution to attempt to end the dispute through amicable negotiations during this period. Neither the workers nor the industry have any benefit from the workers going on the strike”, he added.

As far as raising the threshold in Retrenchment, Closure or Lay-off in the IR Code from 100 workers to 300 workers, he pointed out that labour is the subject of concurrent list, and the concerned state governments have right to change the laws.  He informed that as many as 16 states, using this right, have already increased this limit. Parliamentary Standing Committee also recommended that this limit be increased to 300. Moreover, most of the institutes do not want to keep more than 100 workers in their institution, which promotes informal employment”, Shri Gangwar stressed.

The Minister also informed that according to the Economic Survey 2019, after increasing this Threshold from 100 to 300 in the state of Rajasthan, along with the number of large factories, there has also been an increase in employment generation of workers and an unprecedented reduction in layoffs. “This makes it clear that changing this one provision will motivate investors to set up large factories in the country, and by setting up more factories, more employment opportunities, more workers in our country will be generated for”, he opined.

Shri Gangwar also said that the Trade Unions play an important role in getting workers their rights in institutions. Recognizing the contribution, for the first time in law, Trade Unions are being recognized at the institution level, state level and center level. For the first time in the IR Code, he informed, a provision of Re-skilling Fund has been made with the objective of increasing the chances of employment again if any worker is missed. These workers will be given 15 days salary for this.

Mentioning special provisions made to strengthen the rights of migrant workers in the scenario of COVID-19, he said, the definition of migrant workers has been broadened. Now all the workers who come from one state to another state, and their salary is less than 18 thousand rupees,  they will come under the definition of migrant labour and will get the benefit of welfare schemes of the government. Apart from this, there is a provision to create a data base for migrant workers, portability of their welfare schemes, a separate help line arrangement and travel allowance to be given by the employer once a year for them to go to their place of origin.

Shri Gangwar also informed that under  various labour laws, there will be no need to have multiple registrations or multiple licenses to set up industries. “As far as possible, now we are going to arrange to provide registration, license etc. in a time bound manner and under online process”, he added.

Shri Gangwar concluded saying that through these 4 Labour Codes we are ensuring the welfare of workers on the one hand, on the other hand it is an effort to develop new industries through a simple compliance system, which will create employment for our workforce. New opportunities should be created.  “With enactment of new Labour Codes, the vision of our Prime Minister to have Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas will get a big boost and India will march to the front league of developed nations”, Shri Gangwar emphasized.

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Code on Wages Bill 2019

PIB press release dated 30th July, 2019

The Lok Sabha today passed The Code on Wages Bill, 2019. While opening the discussion for consideration and passing of the Bill,  Minister of State (I/C) for Labour and Employment Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar said that it is a historic Bill which aims to transform the old and obsolete labour laws into more accountable and transparent ones which is need of the hour. As many as 17 present labour laws are more than 50 years old and some of them even belong to pre-independence era.

Among the four Acts being subsumed in The Code on Wages Bill, The Payment of Wages Act, 1936 belongs to pre-independence era and The Minimum Wages Act 1948 is also 71 years old. The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 and The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 are also being subsumed in the Code.

He further said that wide consultations were held with trade unions, employers and State governments and tripartite consultations were held on 10th March, 2015 and 13th April, 2015. A draft of Wage Code was made available in public domain through Ministry’s website. Many persons gave their valuable suggestions. The Bill was introduced in last Lok Sabha on 10 August, 2017 and was referred to Parliamentary Standing Committee which submitted its Report on 18th December 2018. Out of 24 recommendations made by standing committee, 17 were accepted by government.

He further said that the Code ensures minimum wages along with timely payment of wages to all the employees and workers. Many unorganized sector workers like agricultural workers, painters, persons working in restaurants and dhabas, chowkidars etc. who were out of the ambit of minimum wages will get legislative protection of minimum wages after the bill becomes an Act. It has been ensured in the bill that employees getting monthly salary shall get the salary by 7th of next month, those working on weekly basis shall get the salary on last day of the week and daily wagers should get it on the same day.

He expressed hope that The Code on Wages will prove to be a milestone and give respectable life to 50 crore unorganized sector workers. The Minister responded to the debate in detail and thanked all the respected members for cooperation in passing the Bill.

The salient features of the Code are as following:

• The Code on Wage universalizes 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 Minimum Wages Act and Payment of Wages Act apply on workers below a particular wage ceiling working in Scheduled Employments only. This would ensure “Right to Sustenance” for every worker and intends to increase the legislative protection of minimum wage from existing about 40% to 100% workforce. This would ensure that every worker gets minimum wage which will also be accompanied by increase in the purchasing power of the worker thereby giving fillip to growth in the economy. Introduction of statutory Floor Wage to be computed based on minimum living conditions, will extend qualitative living conditions across the country to about 50 crore workers. It is envisaged that the states to notify payment of wages to the workers through digital mode.

• There are 12 definitions of wages in the different Labour Laws leading to litigation besides difficulty in its implementation. The definition has been simplified and is expected to reduce litigation and will entail at lesser cost of compliance for an employer. An establishment will also be benefited as the number of registers, returns, forms etc., not only can be electronically filed and maintained, but it is envisaged that through rules, not more than one template will be prescribed.

• At present, many of the states have multiple minimum wages. Through Code on Wages, the methodology to fix the minimum wages has been simplified and rationalised by doing away with type of employment as one of the criteria for fixation of minimum wage. The minimum wage fixation would primarily based on geography and skills. It will substantially reduce the number of minimum wages in the country from existing more than 2000 rates of minimum wages.

• Many changes have been introduced in the inspection regimes including web based randomised computerised inspection scheme, jurisdiction-free inspections, calling of information electronically for inspection, composition of fines etc. All these changes will be conducive for enforcement of labour laws with transparency and accountability.

• There were instances that due to smaller limitation period, the claims of the workers could not be raised. To protect the interest of the workers, the limitation period has been raised to 3 years and made uniform for filing claims for minimum wages, bonus, equal remuneration etc., as against existing varying period between 6 months to 2 years.

• It can be said that a historical step for ensuring statutory protection for minimum wage and timely payment of wage to 50 crore worker in the country has been taken through the Code on Wages besides promoting ease of living and ease of doing business.

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Pensioners’ portal

PIB press release dated 29th March, 2018

EPFO has launched the pensioner’s portal  https://mis.epfindia.gov.in/PensionPaymentEnquiry. The pensioner’s portal is recently launched service, available at EPFO website by which all EPFO pensioners may get the details of pension related information like Pension payment order number, Pensioner’s Payment Order details, Pensioner’s passbook information & other related information such as date of credit of pension, submission of pensioner’s life certificate etc.

It is helpful to know the status of their life certificate, in case of non-submission/rejection of life certificate of the pensioners. It also provides the details and the reason of stoppage of pension.

Track e KYC:

The enhanced “Track eKYC” facility for the convenience of members have been launched to check the status of Aadhaar seeded against their UAN and to figure out the specific mismatch details.

The facility has been made available at EPFO’s website http://www.epfindia.gov.in >> Online Services >> e-KYC Portal>> TRACK eKYC.

Using the facility, EPFO members can online track the status of Aadhaar seeded against his/ her UAN. While using the facility, the member will have to provide his/her UAN. After entering his/ her UAN the member can click the “Track eKYC” button and the exact status in respect of his/her UAN will be displayed on the screen.

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Women allowed to work in night shifts in Maha factories

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday has made changes to its Factories Act 1948 that will allow women to work in night shifts in factories, and also give freedom to factories to decide on overtime for its workers without approaching the state for sanction.

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said that even the Bombay High Court had earlier said that the decision to bar women from doing night shifts was unconstitutional and biased. “While allowing companies to allow women  ..

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Labour Laws Exemption Bill

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rs-passes-bill-amending-labour-laws/article6634231.ece

The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed by voice vote the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Amendment Bill, 2011 amid walkout by the CPI(M), the CPI, the Janata Dal (United) and the Trinamool Congress members.

These parties were opposed to some of the provisions of the Bill. The CPI, the CPI(M) and the TMC members moved certain amendments which were not carried.

Labour unions affiliated to these parties announced a countrywide protest on December 5 against the amendments on the ground that a large number of units will no longer be regulated for maintaining registers of attendance, wage slips of workers.

Moving the amended Bill, Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya on Tuesday assured the Rajya Sabha that the government was “not at all” compromising on the interest of workers and the legislation was not meant to give exemption to any establishment. “The Bill is a social security measure. It simplifies procedures. The main purpose of bringing the Bill is transparency, accountability and proper enforcement. The EPF Universal Account Number will be a major benefit as it affords portability, transparency and efficiency,” he said.

The Bill, as amended, proposes to change the original Act of 1988 to increase the number of laws under which small establishments are exempt from furnishing returns and maintaining registers from nine to 16. It amends the definition of “small” establishments to cover units employing between 10 to 40 workers as against the limit of 19 workers at present.

The seven Acts that are added to the list include the Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979, and the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996. It will allow firms to maintain returns filed on electronic media. The Apprentices Act (Amendment) Bill, which too relates to labour laws, was introduced in the House soon after. It will come up for discussion on Tuesday.

The Bill proposes changes to the Apprentices Act, 1961 to allow an establishment operating in four or more States to be regulated by the Central government so that those establishments may no longer have to approach various State governments for employing apprentices.

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Apprentices Amendment Bill 2014

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/parliament-passes-apprentices-bill/article6637197.ece

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.

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