Rajya Sabha: Everything you should know about three labour code bills

 

On Tuesday, The Lok Sabha passed three new labour codes- the Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2020, Code on Social Security Bill, 2020 and the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code Bill, 2020.

 

Rajya sabha

 

The government want to combine 44 central labour acts into four codes, towards simplifying India’s labour laws, and improve ease of doing business. 

 

However, Opposition bycotted this bill.

 

Which labour acts are merged with these three codes

 

The Wage Code, passed in August 2019, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has now merged 29 central laws into these three labour codes. Some of central laws which have merged with these codes are the Factories Act, the Industrial Disputes Act, the Trade Union Act, the Mines Act, the EPF Act, the Employees State Insurance Corporation Act, and Maternity Benefit Act.

 

Industrial Relations Code Bill 2020

 

 

Workers

Industrial Relations Code Bill 2020

These bill was designed to force stop workers and employees to demand their rights from the employer or boss. And to protect industry at the cost of workforce

With the Industrial Relations Code Bill, the government has changed the definition of ‘strike’ to bring ‘mass casual leave’ under its ambit. Under the IR code, if over 50 percent of a company’s workers take concerted casual leave, it will be treated as a strike. 

This code also seeks to restrict the rights of workers to strike. As per its reading, a worker cannot go on strike without providing, at least, a 60-day notice, and not while proceedings before a Tribunal or a National Industrial Tribunal are taking place. Following the conclusion of these proceedings, workers are disallowed from going on strike for a period of 60 days. The code has been expanded to cover all industrial establishments. 

Any companies with up to 300 workers can fire workers without having to gain government approval. Currently, only industrial establishments with under 100 workers are allowed to do so. 

It will also raise the threshold for the requirement of a standing order to 300 workers. Industrial establishments with 300 or fewer workers will no longer be required to furnish a standing order. Labour experts have noted that such a provision may enable companies to introduce arbitrary service conditions for their workers. 

The Code abolishes labour courts on the district level and proposes only one or a couple of Industrial Tribunals function in each state. By this way workers will be denied access to justice.

Workers have to sign a six-month contract with the company while joining the company and they have to sign a new contract with the company for a six month period if they want to continue your job. And you cannot do any other work after signing this contract.

Code of Social Security Bill 2020

Migrant workers

 

The Social Security Code proposes the creation of a National Social Security Board organization which will take on the responsibility of formulating suitable schemes for unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers. 

It will brings these sections of workers under the ambit of social security schemes that include life and disability insurance, provident funds, health and maternity benefits and skill upgradation. 

It is essential that social security protections be made universal for the entire Indian workforce, i.e. that such protections be universal. Instead of this, the Code makes arbitrary categorizations that will leave millions of working poor out of its protections. Employers could misuse this restriction to exclude existing employees from this protection.

According to section 2(6) retains the old threshold of only those sites with 10 or more building and other construction workers needing to be covered by the Code. In addition, “personal residential construction work,” which forms a large component of daily waged work, is excluded from the provisions of the Code.

And Section 2(82) retains a wage ceiling to define a waged worker. However, such ceilings might be defined arbitrarily, and despite the Standing Committees’ recommendation to remove it, the Code retains this clause.

Occupational Safety Code Bill 2020

Workers

In Occupational Safety Code, women employees will be permitted to work at night, subject to certain conditions that relate to safety, holidays, working hours, and their consent. Moreover, it also seeks to subsume the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 along with 13 other Acts. 

This Code excludes many branches of economic activities, most notably, the agriculture sector which employs more than 50% of total working population of India.

The structure and resourcing of these social security funds, which means that migrant workers will be left without any sort of special protection from the government in the event of an accident, closure of business, or emergencies related to a pandemic/lockdown. Even though the COVID-19 related lockdown has exposed the systematic failure of the state in providing basic citizenship rights to migrant workers

It also seeks to withdraw the previous provision for temporary accommodation for workers at or near their worksites. But it proposes a journey allowance to be paid by the employer that enables a worker to travel between his native place and the site of employment. 

The Code does not contain any provisions for equal treatment for contract labour who perform work of a similar nature as that of permanent workers in the same establishment. Contract labour that is engaged for performing the same or similar kind of work as that of permanent workers in the same establishment should have been treated on par with permanent workers in the matter of wages and other conditions of employment.

This Code has ignored the fact that the workers in the unorganized sector are either self-employed or work in small groups. Thus the threshold of 250 for instituting a safety committee at the workplace provision will effectively mean that more than 90% of the country’s workforce will not be under any ambit of workplace safety. This is especially critical in a scenario where more than 40,000 deaths are estimated to take place every year in India at work sites. The clauses for a penalty in the event of workplace accidents – Rs. 1 lakh in compensation and ESI/PF benefits are also quite liberal. Criminal punishments should have been accorded to employers as a means of ensuring concrete preventive/safety architecture at the workplace.

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