“Labour” is a subject in the “Concurrent List” under the Constitution of India, where both Central and State governments are competent to enact legislations. The Articles 14, 15, 16, 19(c), 23 and 24 of the Constitution of India deal with the rights related to the workplace. The Ministry of Labour and Employment is entasked with the duty to protect and safeguard interests of the workers who mostly come from the underprivileged sections of society and create a healthy and productive environment for them. 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. Generally, labour law covers following questions:
- Industrial relations – trade unions, labour‐management relations, collective bargaining and unfair labour practices;
- The Industrial Disputes Act 1947 and the Trade Unions Act 1926 established for investigation and settlement of industrial disputes in any industrial establishment and registration of trade unions in India and its protection.
- Workplace health and safety;
- The Factories Act, 1948 lays down provisions for health, safety, welfare and service conditions of the workmen in factories, the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 belongs to prohibiting legislation and abolishes the bonded labour system, in order to prevent economic and physical exploitation, the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 regulates working conditions of children in all employments, which are not prohibited under the Act. The Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013 was enacted by the Parliament to provide protection against sexual harassment for women at workplace.
- Employment standards, including general holidays, annual leave, working hours, unfair dismissals, minimum wage, layoff procedures and severance pay.
- The Minimum Wages Act, 1948 fixes minimum rates of wages in certain employments. The Remuneration Act, 1976 establishes equal remuneration to men and women workers for the same work and prevents discrimination. The Apprentices Act, 1961 provides for the regulation and control of apprentices training to increase the number of trained technical employees.
Recent changes of labour law in 2017: -Amendment of 2017 to the Payment of Wages Act, enabling payment of wages to employees by cash or cheque or crediting it to their bank account.
-Amendment of 2016 to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, providing for a complete ban on employment of children below 14 years in any occupation. -Amendment of 2017 to the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, increasing the paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. -Amendment of 2016 to the Employee Compensation Act, seeking to rationalize penalties and strengthen the rights of the workers under the Act. -Ministry has notified about the “Ease of Compliance to maintain Registers under various Labour Laws and Rules, 2017” on 21st of February 2017, which replaced the 56 Registers/Forms under 9 Central Labour Laws and Rules with 5 common Registers/Forms. This will save efforts, costs and lessen the compliance burden by various establishments. – New category of “Fixed Term Employment” has been introduced under the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 to impart flexibility of establishment in Apparel Manufacturing Sector to employ people, helping them to meet the fluctuating demands of the sector due to its seasonal nature.
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