In this article, Deepanshi Sharma discusses the significant changes in Labour Law that happened in 2017.
Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, 2017
Increased period of maternity leave
Women are now entitled to claim maternity leave for up to twenty-six weeks, instead of a period of twelve weeks assured earlier. The benefit can be availed from up to eight weeks before the expected delivery date, instead of the earlier limit of six weeks in advance.
However, this benefit is available only if the woman has none or one other living child. Women who have two or more living children are entitled to a leave of only twelve weeks which can be availed from up to six weeks prior to the expected period of delivery.
Maternity benefit for adoptive mothers and commissioning mothers
The maternity benefits are now extended to the mothers who adopt children below the age of three months and commissioning mothers who have a child through surrogacy. Such mothers are entitled to a maternity benefit of twelve weeks from when the child is handed over to them.
Mandatory créche facility and breaks
Every establishment having fifty or more employees is now mandated to have a créche nearby. Along with this, the mother has the right to visit the créche four times, including the intervals of rest allowed to her.
Mandatory informing of the maternity benefits available
It has also been made mandatory for the employer to inform every woman of the maternity benefits available to her under the Act at the time of initial employment.
Work from home option
The recent amendment also provides a possibility of the employer allowing mothers to work from home beyond the maternity leave period if the nature of the work permits such an arrangement. The period and conditions regarding it are to be based on mutual agreement between the employer and the woman.
Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Rules, 2017
Awareness measures to be undertaken by the government
The government is now required to undertake measures to make people aware of the laws against child labour. This is to be done through the following measures-
- Public awareness campaigns by using folk and traditional media, mass media
- Promote reporting of the cases of child/adolescent employment which are against the law through development and advertisement of easy means to reporting such incidents to the authorities
- Displaying of the provisions of the law and the rules regarding them at various public places and the offices of all the authorities under the Act
- Promote inclusion of the provisions of the Act in learning materials and syllabus in school education through appropriate measures
- Promote inclusion of training and sensitisation material on the provisions and responsibilities of various stakeholder under the Child Labour Act in Central Labour Service, police, judicial and civil service academies, teachers training and refresher courses and arrange sensitization programmes for other relevant stakeholders.
Conditions in which child may work without breaking the Child Labour laws
The new amendment to the rules adds additional conditions satisfying which a child may work without failing the child labour laws.
A child may help the family or family enterprise after school hours or in vacations but such help shall-
- Not be in any hazardous occupation and process (as listed in the part A & B of the Schedule of the Act);
- Not be work, occupation, or process at any stage of the manufacturing, production, supply or retail chain that is remunerative for the child, her/his family, or the family enterprise;
- Only be in the family or family enterprise, where the family is the occupier;
- Not be during school hours or between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m.;
- Not be any work that hinders or interferes with the child’s right to education, attendance in school, or education (including essential activities like homework), or extracurricular activities assigned to the child by her/his school;
- Not be continuously or without breaks for rest and refreshment;
- Not be more than three hours (excluding the period of rest in the day);
- Not include substitution of the child for an adolescent or an adult while helping; and
- Not be in contravention of any law.
The child may also assist her/his family in any manner which is not incidental to any occupation, work, profession, manufacture or business for which the child (or any other person exercising control over the child) is paid. Such child may also not do any work which is detrimental to the growth, education and overall development of the child.
It is important to note that for the purpose of this rule only the following people are considered to be the family of the child-
- Biological brother or sister of the child;
- Brother or sister of the child through lawful adoption of the child; and
- Biological brother and sister of the parents of the child.
Conditions of work for child artists
A child is allowed to work as an artist, without breaking the prohibition laws, only if-
- she/he does not work for more than five hours in a day;
- she/he does not work for more than three hours without rest;
- One responsible person (who handles no more than five children) is appointed in a production or event who looks after her/his protection, care, and best interest;
- Producers of an audiovisual media production or any commercial event which involves the participation of a child have taken special permission from the District Magistrate before starting the event (discussed ahead). A disclaimer that all measures were taken to ensure that no abuse, neglect or exploitation of child took place in anytime during the shooting also has to be made before its screenings;
- Appropriate measures are taken to ensure that there is no discontinuity of the child’s education and lessons in school;
- No child is made to work consecutively for more than twenty-seven days;
- At least twenty percent of the money earned by the child through production or event is directly deposited in a fixed deposit account in a nationalised bank, and to which the child has access to on attaining majority; and
- The child is not involved in audiovisual or sports activity, including informal entertainment activity, against her/his will and consent.
To get permission, an application to the magistrate has to be made with an undertaking, a list of child participants, consent of their parents/guardians, and the name of the individuals who are responsible for the safety and security of the child.
The mentioned undertaking is valid only for six months. It should clearly state the provision of education, safety, security, and reporting of child abuse which should be in agreement with the guidelines made by the Central government, including the guidelines ensuring-
- Facilities for physical and mental health of the child;
- Timely nutritional diet of the child;
- Safe and clean shelter with all the daily necessities; and
- Compliance with all the laws for the protection of children.
Responsibility of school headmaster or principal
The amendment also places responsibility on the school principal or headmaster to inform the nodal officer in case a child misses school continuously for more than 30 days without intimation. Nodal officers are decided by the District Magistrate [Rule 17C(1)(i)]
To know all the changes in the child labour rules, click here.
The Employee’s Compensation Amendment Act, 2017
Employer’s duty to inform the employee of her/his rights
The amendment places a responsibility on the employer to inform every employee of her/his rights to compensation under the Act. This has to be done at the time of the employment. Such information should be given in writing as well through electronic means in English, Hindi, or the official language of the place of employment (whichever is understood by the employee).
The Payment of Wages Amendment Act, 2017
Wages can be paid directly into the bank account or by a cheque
Along with the payment of wages in cash or currency, it is now also possible to pay wages to the worker by crediting the amount in her/his bank account or by a cheque.
Moreover, the government (central or state) may now come up with a list of industries or other establishments in which wages must be paid only by crediting it in the bank account or through a cheque.
Ease of Compliance to Maintain Registers under various Labour Laws Rules, 2017
Combined registers for various labour laws
In an effort to ease the compliance requisites of a number of labour laws, the ministry of labour and employment has issued rules to maintain combined registers for the below-mentioned acts-
- Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996;
- Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970;
- Equal Remuneration Act, 1976;
- Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979;
- Mines Act, 1952
- Minimum Wages Act, 1948;
- Payment of Wages Act, 1936;
- Sales Promotion Employees (Conditions of Service) Act, 1976;
- Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service); and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955
In place of the different registers for these different acts and the rules under them, five combined registers are to be kept for all purposes. This can be done electronically or on paper. These registers include-
- Employee register (form A)
- Wage register (form B)
- Register of loans/recoveries (form C)
- Attendance register (form D); and
- Register for rest/leave/leave wages (form E) [for The Mines Act; The Sales Promotion Employees Act, The Working Journalists and Miscellaneous Provisions Act]
The format of these registers can be found in the schedule to the Rules. (click here)