Recent amendments in labour laws

Introduction: –

Employee empowerment is essential to Aatmanirbhar self-sufficient, and prosperous India. Even after 73 years of independence, about 90% of workers work in the unorganized sector, which does not have access to all social security. a total number of workers, including organized and unorganized sectors, is more than 50 crores. This is the first time the government has taken an interest in workers in the organized and unorganized sectors and their families. 

Previously, the working class was trapped in a web of many labour laws. The central government has taken a revolutionary step in the right direction to give them freedom in its own right. For this, the central government took a historic step by codifying 29 laws into 4 codes, so that workers can achieve safety as well as respect, health and other welfare measures with facilitate.

Labour laws cover a lot of ground. For example, there are separate sets of laws for factories, the services sector, construction workers, shop and retail employees and so on. There are over 20 different labour laws in India with different implications for employers and employees.

But it can get very confusing for HR professionals and newbie managers because these rules often overlap. And as most companies now follow HR policies that are compliant with the law, you need to understand your rights as an employee and how these laws impact your working conditions. Here’s a brief explanation of some important labour laws:

The National Minimum Wage Act, 1948

This law sets the minimum wage for all sectors of the economy. So, if a company is providing you a salary that is lower than the minimum wage, they are violating this law.

However, there is no provision for employees to be paid the minimum wage if they are working part-time, working through an outsourced agency or are trainees. So, if you are working in any of these capacities, you may not be able to claim the minimum wage. The law also has no provision for employees who are on contract or working on a freelance basis.

This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of scenarios in which people are not entitled to the minimum wage. However, if you are employed on a full-time basis, earning the minimum wage, then you should be getting your full wage. If you are not, then you can report this violation to the labour inspector and apply for the minimum wage.

The Equal Pay Act, 1949

Equal pay for equal work is one of the fundamental principles of this law. This law mandates that both men and women should be paid equally for doing the same job. There are, however, some conditions under which a company may have a valid defence against an equal pay claim.

For example, if a company is able to prove that the difference in the pay structure is due to the fact that the employee belongs to a different grade or has received a promotion, they will not be held liable. If you are receiving lower wages than your male colleagues, then you can file a complaint under this act and apply for equal pay.

The Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons Act, 1996

This law mandates companies to provide a certain percentage of jobs to persons with disabilities. A company employing more than 10 workers must give at least 3% of their jobs to persons with disabilities.

For companies employing more than 20 workers, the law mandates that a certain percentage of the salaries must be paid to the disabled employees from a fund that is managed by the government.

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1987

This law mandates that companies must provide a certain amount of paid leave to all employees who are expecting a baby. The period of paid maternity leave is 16 weeks and is applicable to both full-time and part-time employees. If you are working on a contract basis and are expecting a baby, then you are not entitled to maternity benefits.

The Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970

If you are working under contract in any sector, you are not eligible for a host of benefits that are provided to permanent employees. Contract employees are not entitled to paid leaves, provident fund, medical benefits and other statutory benefits that are offered to employees who are hired on a full-time basis.

However, if a contract employee works continuously for the same employer for a certain period of time, they can apply for regular employment and be absorbed as a full-time employee.

The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946

This law mandates that companies must provide certain conditions of employment to their employees. For example, companies must provide employees with an employment contract, working conditions that are safe, a prescribed amount of paid leave, etc. If your company is violating any of these rules, you can file a complaint under this law.

The Employee Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952

Every employee who earns a certain amount of money per month is eligible to receive a provident fund contribution from their employer. However, this law applies only to employees who are hired on a full-time basis.

If you are working on a contract basis and earning an income that is above a certain amount, your employer will contribute the equivalent amount towards your provident fund account.

The Industrial Resolution and Rehabilitation Act, 2003

This law mandates that companies that are facing bankruptcy or are insolvent must first attempt to resolve the issue internally. If the company is not able to resolve the issue internally, they must approach the authorities for mediation and resolution. If the company fails to do so, they will be charged with criminal offences under this act.

Four New Codes of Labour Law

To ensure workers’ right to the minimum wage Central government integrated four laws. In the wage law, nine social security laws Code, 13 laws on occupational safety, health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 and 3 Labour law.

These labour reforms will facilitate domestic business. Employment creation it also improves worker performance. The benefits of these four labour laws are available to workers in both organized and unorganized departments. Currently, all employees have access to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Employee Pension Plan (EPS), and employee insurance coverage for all types of medical benefits.

  • A Labour Tribunal will institutionalize the vibrant mechanism for speedy disposal of cases, because delay in justice equals to injustice.
  • It will be necessary for the employers to provide secure working condition at workplace for women workers.

Summing up

The majority of these laws are fairly straightforward and easy to understand. However, it is important to note that there are many other laws that regulate the working conditions for employees in India.

Therefore, if you are aware of the rights that you are entitled to as an employee and are aware of the laws that protect you, you will feel more empowered to stand up for your rights. And it will also help you create a positive work environment at your workplace by being aware of your rights as well!

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