Labour reform bills passed
Parliament on 23 September 2020 approved three key reform bills that will safeguard worker's interest and provide a transparent system to suit the changing business environment. The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020, the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, and the Code on Social Security, 2020 were passed by the Rajya Sabha on 23 September 2020. Lok Sabha had passed these bills on 22 September 2020 amid boycott by several opposition parties. These bills become law once the President gives his assent to them. The codes will provide security to the workers in terms of salary, social security and ensure a proper working environment to around 50 crore workers.
- Over 29 labour laws have been merged into four codes and one (Code on Wages Bill, 2019) of them has already been passed. The Wage Code Bill was passed by the Parliament last year.
- The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020, will consolidate and amend the laws regulating the occupational safety, health and working conditions of persons employed in an establishment and related matters.
- The Industrial Relations Code, 2020, seeks to consolidate and amend laws relating to trade unions, conditions of employment in industrial establishments or undertaking, investigation and settlement of industrial disputes.
- The Code on Social Security, 2020, will amend and consolidate laws relating to social security with the goal to extend social security to all employees and workers either in the organised sector or the unorganised sector.
- Under the Industrial Relations Code, companies employing up to 300 workers will not require government permission to lay off workers or close plants.
- The Code also puts restrictions on the recognition of trade unions - making it mandatory for them to represent at least 10% of workers in a given sector - and prohibit them from striking without prior notice and during conciliation proceedings.
- All employees will now receive an offer and a database of migrant workers will be created by both the states and the Centre.
- A worker will now get at least 50 per cent of the penalty in addition to compensation in accidental cases.
- Employees who meet with an accident or get injured while going to or coming from the workplace would also get compensation. Earlier, only workers who got injured during duty hours at the workplace were eligible to seek compensation.
- Under the previous labour laws, an entrepreneur had to maintain eight registrations and four licences to run a business.
- Besides, they also had to file eight labour returns, including to the EPFO, ESIC and chief labour commissioner.
- However, the codes provide for 'one labour return, one licence and one registration' to smoothen compliance.
- Companies having less than 20 workers can voluntarily join the Employee's Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) to obtain social security benefits. Workers will also be free to voluntarily join the employee state insurance scheme for getting health benefits.