Know your Ministry - No. 35 - Labour and Employment

The Ministry of Labour & Employment is one of the oldest and important Ministries of the Government of India. The main responsibility of the Ministry is to protect and safeguard the interests of workers in general and those who constitute the poor, deprived and disadvantage sections of the society, in particular, with due regard to creating a healthy work environment for higher production and productivity and to develop and coordinate vocational skill training and employment services. Government’s attention is also focused on promotion of welfare and providing social security to the labour force both in organized and unorganized sectors, in tandem with the process of liberalization. These objectives are sought to be achieved through enactment and implementation of various labour laws, which regulate the terms and conditions of service and employment of workers. At present, there are 44 labour related statutes enacted by the Central Government dealing with minimum wages, accidental and social security benefits, occupational safety and health, conditions of employment, disciplinary action, formation of trade unions, industrial relations, etc. The list of Central Acts is annexed.

The Ministry has set out an unaccomplished mission of improving the working conditions and the quality of life of workers through laying down and implementing policies / programmes / schemes / projects for providing social security and welfare measures, regulating conditions of work, occupational health and safety of workers, eliminating child labour from hazardous occupations and processes, strengthening enforcement of labour laws and promoting skill development and employment services.

Organisation of the Ministry -

Dattopant Thengadi National Board for Workers Education and Development(DTNBWED) , Chief Labour Commissioner (CLC) , Directorate General of Employment (DGE) , Directorate General Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI), Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) , Employees State Insurance Scheme (ESIC) , Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) , India Labour Archives (ILA) , Labour Bureau , Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya National Academy of Social Security(PDNASS) , V.V. Giri National Labour Institute (VVGNLI) and Central Government Industrial Tribunal (CGIT)-cum-Labour Courts .

LABOUR JURISDICTION – CONSTITUTIONAL STATUS

Under the Constitution of India, Labour is a subject in the Concurrent List where both the Central & State Governments are competent to enact legislation subject to certain matters being reserved for the Centre related to Regulation of labour and safety in mines and oil fields, Trade Unions; industrial and labour disputes, Industrial disputes concerning Union employees, Social Security and insurance, employment and unemployment, Union agencies and institutions for "Vocational ...training..." and Welfare of Labour including conditions of work, provident funds, employers "invalidity and old age pension and maternity. Hence, the State Governments are also competent to enact legislations, as labour is a subject in the concurrent list under the Constitution of India.

POLICIES - Safety, Health and Environment at work place, National Policy on HIV AIDS, Improve ease of doing business, Shram Suvidha, SAMADAN portal for Industrial Disputes.

ACTS & RULES related to Industrial Relations:, Industrial Safety & Health, Child & Women Labour, Social Security, Wages, Labour Welfare, Employment, Labour Reforms,

SCHEMES- PM Shram Yogi Maan-dhan, Aam Aadmi Bhima Yojana, Internship Scheme, Grant in Aid on women & Child, Labour, National Child Labour Project,  Plan Schemes of Directorate General Factory Advice Service and Labour Institutes( DGFASLI), Plan Schemes for Directorate General of Mines Safety(DGMS), Labour Tribunals, Courts of Adjudication and Conciliation Boards, Central Sector Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourer – 2016, Revised Integrated Housing Scheme-2016 and Strengthening of Adjudication Machinery and Holding Lok Adalats.

DOCUMENTS IN PUBLIC DOMAIN – Monthly Progress Report, Annual Reports, Annual Reports of Autonomous Bodies, Employment Publications, Report of the Expert Committee, Code of Discipline, Report to the People, Employment & Unemployment Survey (Not available after 2013-14), UAN KYC Report.

CHALLENGES BEFORE THE MINISTRY

  1. Mitigation of risks related Insecurity of workforce due to lack of protection legislation which is desired for a welfare state to provide social justice.
  2. Inadequate legal framework to create more, safer, and rewarding jobs for the workforce.
  3. Gross non-compliance by employers related to legal prescriptions and standards on minimum wages, working conditions, overtime controls, right against unjustified retrenchment, strengthening of Labour unions, Right of worker to compensation in case of accident at work place, post-retirement benefits, Personal progress , skill development ,Social security and Dignified and respectful job etc. Issues which arise from point of workers and industries.
  4. Complexities under Labour laws and Employment procedures in force.
  5. Pendency of Industrial Dispute cases due to constraints in the resolution process.
  6. Inability Decent working conditions to improve the quality of life of workers or ensuring total abolition of child labour.
  7. Failure to check workforce employed in hazardous sectors that often results in accidents and loss of life due to negligence and callous approach of employers.
  8. Lack of generation of employability avenues through employment services and skill development on a sustainable basis.

THRUST AREAS FOR THE MINISTRY ON IMMEDIATE PRIORITY

  1. Simplification of procedures minimizing numerous overlapping, rigid and obsolete enactments and entrust regulated powers to public officials who indulge in harassment of employers.
  2. Regulated control of Informal sector which employs about 85 -90 % of the workforce where existing laws are not applicable.
  3. Enforce adequate transparency on Entry and exit Barriers for firms and Job security for workers and enact a suitable law for retrenchment to stipulate or mandate government approval for job security of workers.
  4. Modernisation in the name of optimising technological resources needs to adequately streamlined through legislation in the best interest of workforce instead of exploitation.
  5. Establish Social Safety Net for workers through a legal framework In order to enable capacity building of workers so that they could withstand any recession or retrenchment, they need to be provided some social security by means such as Insurance Pensions, provident funds, etc.
  6. Labour and Employment needs to oriented towards manufacturing sector than that of Services and explore all modernized avenues to increase productivity of agriculture sector using our own natural resources.
  7. Introduce an organized framework for employment of workers in construction or infrastructure sectors through suitable labour reforms including suitable penal measures for Industry – employer including imprisonment for non-compliance needs to enforced.
  8. Strengthen the extant provisions of Factories Act for Overtime (normal hours increase) towards better working conditions, facilitate women employees for overnight work providing adequate safety, security and transport facility through a centralized supervision.
  9. Ministry should develop a common database for all employees engaged in both organised and unorganised sectors. The data should be periodically updated using bonafide identity and residential credentials and published in the public domain for verification and validation to facilitate transparency in the inflows and outflows of employment in any sector or in any District/State.
  10. Deploying this database resources, the Ministry has to mandate supply of contractual labor workforce to Government contracts or implementation of any Government Schemes on employment.
  11. To minimize and nullify the concept of migration labour force and ensure that every employee gains employment within his own place of domicile District.
  12. Welfare of the Unorganized Sector Workers: ‘Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008’ has to be revisited to find out the blockages and constraints related to National Social Security Board to implement social security schemes viz. Life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, old age protection and any other benefit as may be determined by the Government for unorganized workers.
  13. To enable the judiciary take over all the Tribunals and Labour Courts under an independent legal jurisdiction headed by a rank of High Court Judge delinking from the Ministry by bringing suitable amendment to the Constitution.
  14. Formulate a National Agenda or policy for (i) Protection of the interest of Workers and Migrant Workers in view of COVID-19, (ii) Measures to generate Employment, (iii) Measures to be adopted for restarting economic activities and (iv) Measures to improve situation of MSME sector to enable them to discharge their liabilities under Labour Laws.

 

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