Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay National Welfare Fund for Sportspersons’ scheme
Recently, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports provided financial assistance to the former and present national level sportspersons through ‘Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay National Welfare Fund for Sportspersons’ scheme.
• Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay National Welfare Fund For Sportspersons (PDUNWFS) was set up in March, 1982 with a view to assisting outstanding Sportspersons of yesteryear, living in indigent circumstances who had brought glory to the Country in sports.
• The scheme as revised in May, 2016 to provide for lump sum ex-gratia assistance to outstanding Sportspersons of yesteryears.
• Provision of pension has been done away with as there is already a Scheme of Pension for Meritorious Sportspersons.
Objective of the scheme
To provide suitable assistance to outstanding sportspersons now living in indigent sportspersons.
To provide suitable assistance to outstanding sportspersons injured during the period of their training for competitions and also during the competitions, depending on the nature of the injury.
To provide suitable assistance to outstanding sportspersons who bring glory to the country in international field and who are disabled as an after effect of their strenuous training or otherwise and to provide them assistance for medical treatment.
To administrator and apply the funds of the Fund to promote the welfare of the sportspersons generally in order to alleviate distress among them and their dependents in indigent circumstances
To administer and apply the funds of the Fund for active sportspersons individually or collectively as a group.
Such schemes are important for social security of sport persons. Except for few sports like Cricket, Sport persons still do not get adequate financial compensation. These schemes will incentivise our youth to take sports as a career and make India proud in international platforms.
New Labour Codes
Recently, the Lok Sabha cleared new versions of three labour codes — Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2020, Code on Social Security Bill, 2020 and Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code Bill, 2020.
In 2019, government introduced The Code on Wages Bill, 2019 which seeks to amend and consolidate laws relating to wages, bonus and matters connected therewith.The Code will subsume four labour laws -- Minimum Wages Act, Payment of Wages Act, Payment of Bonus Act and Equal Remuneration Act. After its enactment, all these four Acts would be repealed.
What are the new labour codes?
New Industrial Relations Code 2020
• The Industrial Relations Code combines the features of three erstwhile laws — the Trade Unions Act, 1926, the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, and the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
• It defines ‘workers’ to include, besides all persons employed in a skilled or unskilled, manual, technical, operational and clerical capacity, supervisory staff drawing up to Rs18,000 a month as salary.
• It introduces ‘fixed term employment’, giving employers the flexibility to hire workers based on requirement through a written contract. Fixed term employees should be treated on par with permanent workers in terms of hours of work, wages, allowances and other benefits, including statutory benefits such as gratuity.
• The Code says any establishment that employs 300 or more workers must prepare standing orders relating to classification of workers, manner of intimating to them periods and hours of work, holidays, pay days etc, shifts, attendance, conditions for leave, termination of employment, or suspension, besides the means available for redress of grievances.
• Where there is more than one trade union in an establishment, the sole negotiating union status will be given to the one that has 51% of the employees as its members. It has been brought down from the 75% requirement in the 2019 version.
• The Code prohibits strikes and lock-outs in all industrial establishments without notice. No unit shall go on strike in breach of contract without giving notice 60 days before the strike, or within 14 days of giving such a notice, or before the expiry of any date given in the notice for the strike.
The Code on Social Security 2020-
• It provides for “Social security funds” for unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers by Central Government, with state governments setting up separate social security funds for unorganised workers. Any aggregator may set aside funds between 1-2% of the annual turnover as decided by govt for such social security funds - not exceeding 5%.
• Definition of employees expanded to include more workers like - inter-state migrant workers, platform worker, film industry workers and construction workers.
• Gratuity period for working journalists reduced from five to three years.
• Penalty for unlawfully deducting the employer’s contribution from the employee’s wages is only Rs 50,000 fine with no imprisonment.
• Central government may defer or reduce the employer’s or employee’s contributions (under PF and ESI) for a period of up to three months in the case of a pandemic, endemic, or national disaster. Representation of central government officials in the National Social Security Board for unorganised workers increased to 10 members.
Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions, 2020:
• The code combines 13 Central labour enactments relating to occupation, safety, health and working conditions of workers.
• Factory definition expanded to 20 workers for premises where the process uses power and 40 workers where the process uses no power.
• Manpower limit on hazardous conditions removed and mandates applying Code on contractors employing 50 or more workers instead of 20.
• Daily work hour limit fixed at maximum of 8 hours per day
• Women will be entitled to be employed in all establishments for all types of work and employer required to provide adequate safeguards in hazardous conditions.
• Workers earning a maximum of Rs 18,000 per month, or such higher amount deemed as inter-state migrant workers and will be allowed to avail benefits like Public distribution system (PDS), building cess, insurance and provident fund.
• Central and state governments to maintain or record the details of inter-state migrant workers in a portal.
How these new codes will help?
Employers can find relief in the following: They reduce complexity in compliance due to a multiplicity of labour laws. They facilitate ease of doing business. India’s present ranking is 77, and the goal is to reach a position among the top 50 countries of the world.
This will result in employment generation without diluting basic aspects of securing employee rights, safety, security and health of workers, and standardisation of definitions under different labour laws.
The Codes are for simplification, and rationalisation. Provision of one licence/one registration and one return will save time, resources and efforts of the establishment.
It will result in reduction in cost of compliance, a single, decentralised authority for implementation.
Web-based electronic labour inspectors/facilitators shall, before initiation of prosecution proceedings, give an opportunity to the employer to comply with the provisions of the Codes. It will also eliminate the high cost of claims for beneficiaries.
The Codes have much to offer, especially for incumbent formal job seekers. Some of the overarching benefits include: The attempt to encompass a large cross-section of workforce, beyond those in the organised sector, and provide them with protection under the labour laws through outreach schemes, specifically for the informal and unorganised sectors.
There is also a statutory requirement to issue appointment letters to every employee to prevent exploitation and implementation of clear and transparent ways of employee engagement.
The cut-off date for salary disbursement advanced to the 7th of the subsequent month, facilitating prompt remittances of statutory contributions by the 15th of the subsequent month. This impacts every employee/worker across all sections. Change in the provision of gratuity payout is beneficial for today’s workers.
Concerns raised related to provisions of these codes
While industry has welcomed the changes, others have said that the unclear provision regarding retrenchment would lead to uncertainty, and discretionary behaviour during implementation by the central or state government. This can lead to misuse of the provisions.
Unequal bargaining powers between the worker (on fixed term employment) and employer could affect the rights of such workers since the power to renew such contracts lies with the employer. This may result in job insecurity for the employee and may deter him from raising issues about unfair work practices, such as extended work hours, or denial of wages or leaves.
The labour rights for workers in small establishments having less than 300 workers will be greatly compromised.
Codes has further liberalised the provisions relating to employment of contract labour and making their regulation applicable only in establishments employing 50 or more workers, instead of 20 or more, as was the case earlier. This will lead to lesser protection for contract labours.
The threshold for factories has now been doubled — from 10 to 20 workers with power — thereby eliminating a large number of important regulatory provisions for the smaller factories.
Inspection provisions have been diluted in all the Codes.
The changes have also made legal industrial action a virtual impossibility and the presence of unions even less possible.
Strike is a mean to put pressure on management if workers perceive them to be taking anti-labour steps. New code has made going on strike a virtual impossibility. For instance, the IR Code proposes that no person employed in an industrial establishment shall go on strike without a 60-day notice and during the pendency of proceedings before a Tribunal or a National Industrial Tribunal and sixty days after the conclusion of such proceedings.
As a whole, these legislations will reduce bargaining power of the labour.
Allowing the states to override central legislation, as provided for in these codes, without justification, will create future problems for federalism.
The 2020 Acts bars civil courts from hearing any matters under the Act. In some matters where persons are aggrieved by the orders of authorities such as, by the order of the Inspector-cum-facilitator in the case of factories, or by the revocation of a license for contractors, the Bill provides for an administrative appellate authority to be notified. However, it does not provide a judicial mechanism for hearing disputes under the Bill.
India needs a labour code which balanced employers’ interests with workers’ security and rights. Attempt should be made to incentivise industries to increase formalisation of labour. Formal employment not only provides better compensation and security to workers but also increases productivity. Focus on skilling and re-skilling labour forces is another area which needs attention.
The articles which directly concerns labour rights are: (14), (16), 19(1) (c), 23-24, 38 and 41-43(A).
v Article 14 concludes that everyone should be equal before the law,
v Article 15 states that state should not discriminate against citizen, Article 16 promises equality of opportunity.
v Article 19(c) gives the right to form unions or associations.
v Article 23 prohibits forced labour and Article 24 goes on to prohibit child labour which includes that child below the age of 14 years should not be included in hazardous jobs.
v Article 38(1) promotes the welfare of people and 38(2) minimizes or decreases the inequality of income.
v Article 43(A) inserted through the 42nd amendment secures the participation of workers in the management of undertakings.