Initiatives Taken for Workers Welfare in India

2019 ias preliminary exam test series

The Government of India is following the approach of ‘Reform to Transform’ through far-reaching structural reforms. Employment Generation is the first priority for the Government. After going through a decade of jobless growth, the Centre is working on a comprehensive strategy to bring employment to the core of development strategy, promoting industrial activity through Make in India, enhancing employability through Skill India and encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship through Start up India.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment is committed towards job security, wage security and social security for each and every worker. Along with bringing transparency and accountability in enforcement of Labour Laws,the Ministry has taken important initiatives to realize and establish the dignity of every worker through provision of social security, enhancing the avenues and quality of employment.

A. Legislative Reforms:

1. The Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill, 2015 passed by the Parliament in the Winter Session has been published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary on 1st January, 2016 as Act No. 6 of 2016 to come into force on the 1st day of April, 2014.

The Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Act, 2015 envisages enhancement of eligibility limit under section 2(13) from Rs.10,000/- per month to Rs.21,000/- per month and Calculation Ceiling under section 12 from Rs. 3500 to Rs.7000 or the minimum wage for the scheduled employment, as fixed by the appropriate Government, whichever is higher. The Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Act, 2015 also mandates previous publication of draft subordinate legislations, framed under the enabling provisions under the said Act, in the Official Gazette for inviting objections and suggestions before their final notification.

2. The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 passed by Rajya Sabha on 11th August,2016 which inter-alia include increasing maternity benefit to woman covered under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 from 12 weeks to 26 weeks up to two surviving children allowing the mother to take care of the child during his/her most formative stage, providing maternity benefit of 12 weeks to Commissioning mother (in case of surrogate child) and Adopting mother (in case of adoption), facilitate “work from home” to a mother with mutual consent of the employee and the employer, making mandatory in respect of establishment having fifty or more employees , to have the facility of crèche either individually or as a shared common facility within such distance as may be prescribed by rules & also to allow four visits to the crèche by the woman daily, including the interval for rest allowed to her and every establishment to intimate in writing and electronically to every woman at the time of her initial appointment about the benefits available under the Act.

3. The Employees’ Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed in Lok Sabha on 9th August, 2016 to modify the provisions of Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923 to rationalize the penalties and strengthen the rights of the worker under the Act.

4. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016, passed by the Parliament on 26th July,2016. This Amendment Bill clearly stipulates total and complete prohibition on employment of children below 14 years and proposed more stringent punishments for violations. Amendment bill seeks to ensure the Right of Children to schooling and learning. However, children are allowed to help in their family enterprises only in non-hazardous occupations and that too only after school hours or during vacations. Amendment also prohibits Adolescents in the age group of 14-18 years of their employment in hazardous occupations and permits their engagement in only certain occupations to be specified in due course.

5. Cabinet in its meeting held on 29th June,2016 considered the Model Shops and Establishment (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Bill,2016. The Model Bill is a suggestive piece of legislation and has been finalized keeping in view the spirit of cooperative federalism. This gives liberty to States for fine tuning the Model bill to suit their requirement. This Model Bill applies to shops and establishments employing ten or more workers except manufacturing units. This Model bill gives freedom to operate 365 days in a year and opening/closing time of establishment, women to be permitted during night shift, if the provision of shelter, rest room, ladies toilets, adequate protection of their dignity and transportation etc., exists.

Labour Codes:

6. The 2nd National Commission on Labour had recommended codification of Labour Laws in to 4-5 Groups on functional basis. At present, Ministry of Labour & Employment is working to rationalize the provisions of the 43 Labour Laws in 4 Labour Codes viz.

· Labour Code on Wages -.
· Labour Code on Industrial Relations –
· Labour Code on Social Security & Welfare -.
· Labour Code on Safety &Working Conditions –

Administrative Initiatives / Decisions:

The government has announced more than 42% increase in the minimum wages for all sectors in the central sphere. For the first time minimum wages for all sectors; agricultural, non-Agricultural, Construction etc. have been increased simultaneously. Minimum wage (per day) for non-agricultural worker in the ‘C’ area category increased form Rs. 246/- to Rs 350/-,Rs 437/- in ‘B’ area category and Rs. 523/- in ‘A’ area category.

7. Revised scheme for the rehabilitation of Bonded Labour with the quantum of financial assistance increased from the symbolic level of Rs 20 thousand to an amount of Rs 3 lakhs. While the most deprived and marginalized like the disabled, female and children rescued from trafficking, sexual exploitation and transgender will get Rs 3 lakhs, the next in order is the special category comprising of females and the minors who will now get Rs 2 lakhs. A normal adult male bonded labour will get Rs. 1 lakh.
 ESI coverage on Wage ceiling has been increased from Rs.15000/- to Rs.21,000/-.
 Minimum pension under EPS has been revised to Rs.1000/- in perpetuity per month in April 2015.
 Bonus ceiling has been enhanced from Rs.3500/- to Rs.7000/- and the eligibility limit has been raised from Rs.10000/- to Rs.21000/-
 EDLI Benefit increased from 3.6 Lakh (max) to 6.0 Lakh(max)
 Time limit reduced to 20 days from 30 days for EPF claim settlements.
 Optional Deferment of age for drawing Pension from 58 year to 60 year with 4% per year incentive.

8. Extending coverage of ESI Scheme for extending its social security net to the whole country.

I. The Government has issued coverage Notifications covering 165 districts in whole where the ESI Scheme was earlier implemented in part.
1. Decision taken to enhance the maternity benefits under ESIC from existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks. Adopting and commissioning mothers also to get maternity benefits. Intention notification sent for legal vetting.
2. It is decided to reduce the employees’ and employers contribution under ESI Act from existing 1.75 and 4.75% to 1% and 3%, respectively for two years in new implemented areas of districts where ESI scheme is partly implemented. Intention notification published on 25.7.2016

II. ESI Coverage has been extended to Construction workers in the implemented area. Construction site Workers have been covered to avail benefits under the ESI Scheme w.e.f. 1st August, 2015.

III. Extending the social security benefits of ESI Scheme in the remaining North-East States Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur and Andaman & Nicobar Island. It has been implemented in Mizoram w.e.f. 1.12.2015 and in Port Blair w.e.f. 01.01.2016.

A unified Web Portal ‘Shram Suvidha Portal’ launched on 16.10.2014 to bring transparency and accountability in enforcement of labour laws and ease complexity of compliance. Main features of this portal included:

Unique Labour Identification Number (LIN) is allotted to Units. 13.19 Lakh LIN allotted as on 09.09.2016.

Universal Account Number(UAN) programme launched on 16th October 2014 is designed to act as an umbrella for the multiple Member IDs allotted to same individual.

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