The Rajya Sabha on 23rd September 2020 passed the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code Bill 2020; Industrial Relations Code Bill 2020 and The Code of Social Security 2020.
The Lok Sabha on 22nd September cleared these labour bills amalgamating laws on social security, occupational relations which would usher in changes including allowing companies with less than 300 workers to hire and fire without the prior approval and provide gig and platform workers social security.
Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code,2020
It has following objectives:
- To employ women in all establishments for all types of work. They can also work at night, that is, beyond 7 PM and before 6 AM subject to the conditions relating to safety, holiday, working hours and their consent.
- To provide for issuing of appointment letter mandatorily by the employer of an establishment to promote formalisation in employment.
- To make the provisions relating to Inter-State Migrant Workers applicable on the establishment in which ten or more migrant workers are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding twelve months.
- To make provision of “common license” for factory, contract labour and beedi and cigar establishments and to introduce the concept of a single all India license for a period of five years to engage the contract labour.
- To enable the courts to give a portion of monetary penalties up to fifty per cent to the worker who is a victim of accident or to the legal heirs of such victim in the case of his death.
- To provide overriding powers to the Central Government to regulate general safety and health of persons residing in whole or part of India in the event of declaration of epidemic or pandemic or disaster
- To make provision for Social Security Fund for the welfare of unorganised workers.
The Code on Social Security, 2020
It has following objectives:
- To extend social security to all employees and workers either in the organised or unorganised or any other sectors.
- To provide for an establishment to be covered Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) on voluntary basis even if the number of employees in that establishment is less than the threshold i.e. 20 and 10 respectively.
- To define various expressions used in the Bill such as, “career centre”, “aggregator”, “gig worker”, “platform worker”, “wage ceiling” , etc.
- To empower the Central Government to frame schemes for unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers and the members of their families for providing benefits relating to Employees’ State Insurance Corporation
- Provisions for maternity benefits such as prohibition from work during certain periods, provision of nursing breaks, crèche facility, claim for maternity benefits, etc.
- To provide that in the case of an employee employed on fixed term employment or a deceased employee, the employer shall pay gratuity on pro rata basis and not on the basis of continuous service of five years
Among the 12 Acts subsumed under the Occupational Safety Code,2020 is the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation and Employment and Conditions of Service) Act of 1979, which came under the spotlight during the COVID-19 lockdown when several migrant workers found themselves without any recourse to wages or services from their employers.
The Code on Social Security, 2020: The code on social security
Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code,2020: The occupational safety, health and working conditions code