Defined: Within the three new labour codes, what adjustments for staff & hirers?

Written by Aanchal Magazine, Published by Explained Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: September 27, 2020, 12:22:09 PM

Workers in Punjab (Express photo / Jasbir Malhi)

The Lok Sabha Tuesday deleted new versions of three labor laws – Draft Labor Relations Act, 2020, Draft Law on Social Security, 2020, and Draft Law on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions, 2020.

While the government is proposing to improve the social security area through the inclusion of gig workers and interstate migrant workers, it has also proposed measures that would give employers more flexibility to hire and fire workers without government permission.

What are the main suggestions?

In the 2020 draft Labor Relations Code, the government proposed introducing more conditions restricting workers’ right to strike while increasing the threshold for layoffs and cuts in industrial establishments that currently have 300 workers of 100 or more workers. Steps that are likely to give employers more flexibility in hiring and firing workers without government approval.

The Industrial Relations Code has raised the threshold for requiring rules of procedure – rules of conduct for workers employed in industrial companies – to over 300 workers. This means that industrial companies with up to 300 employees do not have to place a standing order. According to experts, this could enable companies to introduce arbitrary service conditions for employees.

In its April report, the Standing Working Committee had also proposed raising the threshold to 300 workers, noting that some state governments such as Rajasthan had already raised the threshold and, according to the Ministry of Labor, this had led to an “increase” in employment and a decrease in employment Reduction “. “The Committee would like the threshold in the Code itself to be raised accordingly and the words” as notified by the relevant government “to be deleted, as a reform of labor law through the executive branch is undesirable and should be avoided as far as possible.” it had said.

The Labor Relations Code states that the provision on standing orders applies to “every industrial company in which three hundred or more than three hundred employees are or have been employed on one day of the previous twelve months”.

A construction worker is on the phone when smoke leaks from a chimney in the eastern suburb of Mumbai. (Express photo by Karma Sonam Bhutia)

What are the concerns about the new labor laws?

Analysts say raising the standing order threshold will dilute labor rights for workers in small businesses with fewer than 300 employees. “Raising the standing order threshold from 100 to 300 is inappropriate and shows that the government is keen to give employers tremendous flexibility in terms of hiring and firing … Suspicion of misconduct dismissal and economic cut will be for all industrial companies with fewer than 300 employees are quite possible. This is a total demolition of job security, ”said XLRI professor and labor economist KR Shyam Sundar.

The Labor Relations Code also introduces new conditions for conducting a legal strike. The time limit for arbitration has been included in the terms and conditions for workers prior to entering into a legal strike, only against the time of the arbitration.

For example, the IR Code provides that no person employed in an industrial establishment should go on strike without 60 days’ notice and while a case is pending before a tribunal or national labor court and 60 days after such case is completed may kick. Extending the legal timeframe before workers can go on legal strike makes a legal strike nearly impossible.

The IR code has been expanded to cover all industrial operations for the required notice period and other conditions for a legal strike. The Standing Working Committee had recommended that the notice period required for strikes should be extended beyond public utilities such as water, electricity, natural gas, telephone and other essential services.

Currently, a person employed in a public utility cannot strike unless they announce a strike within six weeks of the strike or within fourteen days of termination, which the IR Code now applies to all industries suggests facilities.

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What are the other suggestions for workers?

The IR Code bill has also proposed a retraining fund for employees, although the contributions to the fund are only listed by the employer of an industrial company at the rate of fifteen daily wages that the employee last drew along with the contribution from this fund immediately before the cut other sources. The mention of “other sources” for funding the retraining fund is vague, according to experts.

The other two codes have also proposed changes to expand social security and include migrant workers between states in the definition of workers. The Social Security Code proposes a national social security agency that recommends the central government to formulate appropriate systems for different sections of unorganized workers, gig workers and platform workers. In addition, aggregators who employ gig workers are required to contribute 1-2 percent of their annual sales to Social Security, with the total contribution not exceeding 5 percent of the amount payable by the aggregator to gig and platform workers.

The Code of Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions has defined intergovernmental migrant workers as workers who have come from one state alone and have found employment in another and earn up to 18,000 rupees per month. The proposed definition differs from the current definition only of contractual employment.

However, the Code deleted the previous provision on the temporary accommodation of workers near the construction site. However, a lump sum travel allowance has been proposed – a lump sum that the employer has to pay for the worker’s round trip from work to home.

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