For migrant workers, labour code mandates travel & PDS benefits

Labour Laws

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Labour Laws
Labour Laws

In News:

  • The government has introduced three bills related to labour laws in the Parliament, which includes The Occupational Safety, Health And Working Conditions Code, 2020.
  • The bills have been introduced by withdrawing the three bills introduced last year.
  • The three bills are a part of the process through which over 29 labour laws have been merged into four codes.
  • The Code on Wages Bill, 2019 has already been passed by the Parliament last year.

The Occupational Safety, Health And Working Conditions Code, 2020:

  • As per the bill, the Central Government will declare, standards on occupational safety and health for workplaces through a notification.
Duties of the employer:
  • The employer shall be responsible to maintain health, safety and working conditions for the employees as may be prescribed by the Central Government
  • It is the duty of every employer to ensure that the work place is free from hazards (danger) which are likely to cause injury or occupational disease to the employees.
  • No charge should be levied on any employee, for maintenance of safety and health at the work place.
  • The employer shall be responsible to provide and maintain various welfare facilities for the employees as may be prescribed by the Central Government.
  • Further, the employers have to provide free of cost annual health examination to employees.
Rights of employee:
  • Every employee in an establishment will have the right to obtain information relating to employee’s health and safety at work, from the employer.
  • If an employee feels that the work environment can lead to an injury or death, or pose any danger to health, he can inform the employer directly or through the Safety Committee.

Provisions for employment of women:

  • Women shall be entitled to be employed in all establishments for all types of work under this Code.
  • They may also be employed, with their consent, before 6 a.m. and beyond 7 p.m.
  • If the government considers that the employment of women is dangerous for their health and safety, in an establishment, then the employer has to provide adequate safeguards for employing women in such operations.

Separate section on inter-state migrant workers:

  • The bill has a separate section on inter-state migrant workers and states that rules shall apply to every establishment in which ten or more inter-state migrant workers are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding twelve months.
  • The bill widens the coverage of migrant workers under labour laws, along with extending more social security benefits to the working class most affected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Under the present law, migrant workers were covered under labour laws only if they were hired through contractors. As a result of this, migrant workers who travelled on their own for work were not covered under the labour laws.
  • The new bill defines inter-state migrant workers as the worker who has come on his own from one state and obtained employment in another state, earning up to Rs 18,000 a month.
  • Thus, it will include workers who have been recruited directly by the employer or indirectly through a contractor.
Provisions for migrant workers:
  • For the first time, the government has made a provision for framing schemes to provide option to migrant workers for availing benefits of public distribution system either in their home state or destination state.
  • The migrant workers will also be able to avail benefits out of the cess funds meant for building and construction workers in the state where they are employed.
  • The proposed code has said that it will be duty of employers to extend certain benefits to migrant workers that are given to other workers in their establishment, including those related to the Employees’ Provident Fund and Employees’ State Insurance schemes.
  • To ensure that the dataset of migrant workers are maintained by the States, the Central Government and the State Governments shall maintain the data base or record, for inter-State migrant workers, electronically on a portal.
  • The migrant workers will also be allowed to register themselves on the portal, after giving a self-declaration and Aadhaar number.
  • The employer will have to pay a journey allowance per year, which will include a lump sum amount of fare for to and fro journey to the native place of the worker, from the place of his employment.

National and State Boards:

  • The Bill provides for the constitution of the National Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board by the Central Government.
  • The Board will advise the Central Government to frame standards, rules and regulations under the Code.
  • It will also look into the issues of policy and programme relating to occupational safety and health referred to it, by the Central Government.
  • Similarly, a State Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board will be constituted by the various State governments.
Social Security Fund:
  • The bill provides for the establishment of a social security fund by the government, for the welfare of the unorganised workers.
  • Death caused due to the non-compliance of the provisions of the Code, will be punished with an imprisonment for a term of up to two years, or with a fine not less than five lakh rupees, or with both.
  • Serious bodily injury to any person within the establishment, shall be punishable with an imprisonment for a term of up to one year, or with a fine not less than two lakh rupees but not exceeding four lakh rupees, or with both.

Also Read: Select committees and other parliamentary panels: role, limitations

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