With Four Labour Codes, 2020 To Be A ‘Year Of Reforms’: Santosh Gangwar
As many as 44 central labour laws are most likely to be subsumed under four labour codes in 2020, making it a year of reforms as the government works to bolster investments and tackle slowdown blues.
The union labour ministry is also planning to launch the ‘Santusht' portal in January for effective implementation of labour laws at the grassroots level.
Entering 2020, the government hopes that India would be able to implement all four codes on wages, industrial relations, social security and occupational safety, health and working conditions. These are expected to improve the ease of doing business and safeguard the interest of workers.
"We hope that 2020 would be an year of labour reforms. The four codes would be a reality in 2020. The codes would safeguard the interest of workers and employers. We have tried to strike a balance between workers' as well employees' rights," Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar told Press Trust of India.
The labour reforms assume significance as India’s GDP growth fell to an over-six-year low of 4.5 percent in the second quarter of 2019-20 while retail inflation rose to 40-month-high of 5.54 percent in November.
"The process of labour reforms began after the 2nd National Labour Commission gave its report in 2004. But the process was expedited in 2014,” Gangwar said.
"We introduced the four codes in Lok Sabha after many tripartite meetings (taking unions and employers on board). Besides we sent all four codes for scrutiny by standing committee," the minister said.
According to the the recommendations of the 2nd National Commission on Labour, the ministry is codifying existing 44 central labour laws into four codes by simplifying, amalgamating and rationalising the relevant provisions of the legislation.
The Labour Code on Wages has already been approved by Parliament. The law would be implemented after framing rules under the code. The remaining three codes are sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour.
"The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019, was referred to standing committee in October this year. Earlier this month, we also sent The Industrial Relations Code, 2019 and Social Security Code to the committee for scrutiny to the panel," Gangwar said.
"We are going beyond codification of the labour laws. In order to ensure effective implementation of labour laws at grass root level for workers as well as employers, we have planned a new portal 'Santusht'."
The portal would not only monitor the work of different bodies and wings of the ministry implementing labour laws, but also give credit and discredit to officials responsible for keeping or not keeping quality of service on the mark.
The portal would help the labour ministry to assess the performance of officials and would be given due weighage at the time of their appraisals, transfers, and postings. It would ensure transparency, accountability and effective implementation of labour laws.
The labour ministry would also enforce the retirement fund body EPFO's decision to restore commutation, or advance part-withdrawal, under the Employees' Pension Scheme from Jan. 1, 2020. This would provide relief to 6.3 lakh pensioners who had opted for commutation and got a lump-sum amount at the time of retirement before 2009. The provision for commutation of pension was withdrawn by the EPFO in 2009.
Under the commutation, monthly pension used to be cut by one-third for the next 15 years and the reduced amount was given in lump sum. After the 15 years, the pensioners were entitled to get the full pension. Apart from the organised sector, the year 2019 witnessed significant development in the form of the launch of Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan.
The scheme provides a minimum pension of Rs 3,000 per month to unorganised workers like domestic help, rickshaw pullers, cobblers or rag pickers, to ensure their old age protection.
The scheme covers informal sector workers whose monthly income is up to Rs 15,000 per month or less and belongs to the entry age group of 18-40 years. A similar scheme is also launched this year for small traders and self employers persons with annual turnover (sales) not exceeding Rs 1.5 crore. According to the scheme portal, around 40 lakh informal sector workers have enrolled under the PM-SYM.
Now, how many more come forward for the scheme would be seen in year 2020. The government would have to put an extra efforts to increase enrolments as there are over 40 crore informal sector workers in India.