This article has been written by Ansh Mohan Jha, a student of BA LLB, First Year at Pune University. This article encompasses major labour laws that have been enacted to regulate the labour of our country.
Table of Contents
Unlike developed countries, most of the industrial establishments in India are labour intensive i.e workers are extensively employed to carry out the production of goods and services. To date, labour-intensive methods are preferred in our country because it not only lowers down the cost of production but also provides employment to a myriad of people, but as soon as industrialisation gained pace in our country, a plethora of cases surfaced in which employers had exploited their employees working under them. In some cases, the workers were made to work for long hours at minimal wages while in other ones, they were not remunerated periodically and heavy deductions were made from their salaries over trivial issues. In a nutshell, we can say that the majority of the employers were committing atrocities on their workers. Hence, it became the need of the hour to formulate a set of laws to protect the basic rights of the labourers so that a favourable working environment could be set up. The set of laws which are enacted to uphold the basic rights of labourers and provide them employments and benefits are collectively known as ‘Labour Laws’.
Central and State Laws
In India, the subject of ‘Labour’ falls under the category of concurrent list i.e both central and state governments have the authority to make legislation on this subject. However, there are certain matters on which the state government are not entitled to make any law.
Labour Jurisdiction Constitutional Status.
Entry No. 55
Regulation of labour and safety in mines and oil fields.
Entry No. 22
Trade Unions; industrial and labour disputes.
Entry No. 61
Industrial disputes concerning Union employees.
Entry No. 23
Social Security and insurance, employment and unemployment.
Entry No. 65
Union agencies and institutions for “Vocationa …training…”
Entry No. 24
Welfare of labour including conditions of work, provident funds, employers “invalidity and old age pension and maternity.
Statutes relating to Industrial Relations
The statutes relating to industrial relations have been enacted with the object of maintaining a healthy and amicable relationship between an employer and an employee. The provisions under these statutes pave the way for the creation of several institutions which not only empowers the members of industrial establishments but also creates a favourable environment to resolve any dispute which may slow down the industrial growth.
Post World War I, workmen rebelled and held strikes against their employers because of the oppressive term and condition of the work, which was solely formulated by employers. In retaliation, employers began to lock out workers, which worsened the relationship between them. Finally, on April 1st, 1947, the Industrial Disputes Act was enacted to provide a permanent machinery for the settlement of industrial disputes amicably and peacefully.
According to this Act, an industrial dispute may be defined as the differences of opinions between workmen and employers or between workmen and workmen, which is linked with employment or non-employment or the terms of employment or with the conditions of labour.
The legislative intent of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 is to investigate and settle down the industrial disputes in order to maintain peace and harmony among workers and employers of an establishment.
The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 is applicable to the whole of India. Every industrial establishment that is carrying on the production of goods and services, irrespective of the number of workmen employed there falls under the jurisdiction of this Act.
- Under the provisions of this Act, various entities such as Works Committee, Board of Conciliation, Courts of Inquiry, Labour Courts, Tribunals and National Tribunals are constituted not only to expedite the settlement of dispute but also to resolve it fairly and peacefully.
- Neither a worker shall go on an unauthorised strike nor an employee shall declare unwarranted lock-out, contravening the Section 22 or Section 23 of the Act.
- An employer shall pay compensation to his employees in case of lay-off, closing down of undertakings, or transfer of undertakings.
- An employer shall not retrench his employees arbitrarily;it is necessary that he follow the rules laid down under the provisions of the Act.
In layman’s terms, a Trade Union may be defined as an organisation of workers constituted with the object of protecting their basic rights. The workers began organising themselves to prevent employers from exploiting them and to make employers commence welfare schemes for them as well. Moreover, the formation of trade unions thwarted employers to take unanimous decisions and paved the way for collective bargaining as well.
The Trade Union Act, 1926 has been enacted with the object to provide for the registration of Trade Unions and in certain respects to define the law relating to registered Trade Unions.
It extends to the whole of India.This Act is not only applicable to the union of workers but also to the organisation of employers.
- The appropriate Government shall appoint a person known as Registrar for the purpose of registering functional Trade Unions.
- Any seven members of a Trade Union may make an application, along with all the required documents such as name and address of the Trade Union, information about the members making the application and information about the office bearers to the Registrar for the purpose of getting the Certificate of Registration.
- The general funds of a Trade Union shall be spent on the payment of salaries to the office bearers, the payment of expenses to administer it, the payment of compensation arising out of trade disputes, the payment of pensions to its members, and the issuance of policies insuring members against sickness, accident or unemployment, etc.
- The certificate of a Trade Union may be withdrawn if the Registrar finds that it was obtained through either a mistake or fraud. In case, a Trade Union violates the provisions of this Act, or it ceases to function, then he may revoke its status.
Statutes relating to Wages
Looking back into history, we find that the employers used to exploit their employees in every possible manner to maximise their profits. In this sub-point, we will discuss the economic exploitation of the workers. The wages that were paid to the workers were so minimal that they could not fulfil their basic needs. Moreover, the wages were not disbursed periodically, and heavy deductions were made from the wages even after enforcing the employees to work for long hours. There was no provision of providing bonuses to the employees. Therefore, the statutes relating to wages were enacted to protect the workers from being exploited economically and to make every employee financially independent.
Before the enactment of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, several cases were found where the employees were not getting their remunerations periodically, and at the same time, the employers were making deductions from their salaries over petty issues. In order to fix these two primes issues, this Act came into existence.
The Payment of Wages Act, 1936 has been enacted to regulate the regular remuneration of the workers and to prevent hefty deductions and arbitrary fines from their salaries as well.
It is a central legislation and is applicable to the whole of India. It is applicable to every person employed in any factory or certain specified industrial or other establishments.
- Under the provisions of this Act, payment should be made to employees before the 7th day of a month if the establishment consists of less than 1000 employees and on 10th day otherwise.
- Payment should be paid in currency notes or coins. However, an employer could also pay the remuneration by cheque payment or by transferring the due amount to the bank account of an employee after taking his consent.
- Payment period should not exceed 30 days.
- No deductions shall be made except those provided in the Act such as deductions for absence from duty, deductions for damage to or loss of goods, fines, deductions for services rendered, etc.
The concept of minimum wages gained ground due to the fact that the workers of an establishment performing the same labour were receiving substantially low wages as compared to the other workers engaged in the same labour in other establishments. In 1929, the Royal Commission on Labour was appointed in India to discuss the wage-fixing process comprehensively. It was again discussed at the 3rd and 4th meetings of the Standing Labour Committee in 1943 and 1944 respectively. It was widely discussed at the sessions of the tripartite labour conference in 1943, 1944 and 1945 respectively. Finally, on 11 April 1946, a Minimum Wages Bill was introduced and the Bill became a law in 1948.
The Minimum Wages Act of 1948 regulates the fixation of the minimum rates of wages for both skilled and unskilled workers employed in an establishment.
It is applicable to the whole of India. Any establishment consisting of 1000 employees or more in the respective state falls under the jurisdiction of this Act.
The minimum wages shall consist of the following components, namely:
- A basic rate of wages and the cost of living allowance.
- A basic rate of wages with or without the cost of living allowance, and the cash value of the concessions in respect of supplies of essential commodities at concession rates.
- A basic rate, the cost of living allowance and the cash value of the concessions, if any.
- The appropriate Government, under Section 3, shall fix the wages payable to employees in an establishment.
- It shall also review the minimum rates of wages so fixed at regular interval of time. After reviewing the rates of wages, it may revise the minimum rates, if necessary.
- An employer shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to 6 months, or with fine which may extend to 500 rupees or both.
The history of payment of bonus can be traced back to the First World War. During the war, in 1917, certain textile mills disbursed 10% of the wages to their labourers as war bonus. In 1950, the full bench of the Labour Appellate prepared a formula for payment of bonus to the employees of an establishment. Ultimately in 1961, the Central Government constituted a tripartite commission for the purpose of evolving a comprehensive method for the disbursal of bonus to the employees. In 1965, the payment of bonus has been enacted by the Government of India.
The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 has been enacted with the object of regulating the payment of bonus to persons employed in an establishment based on its profit and productivity.
This Act is applicable to the whole of India. Every factory and establishment in which twenty or more workers are employed on any day during an accounting year shall be liable to pay the bonus to its employees.
Every employer is bound to pay a minimum bonus to his employee, which shall be 8.33% of his total salary earned during an accounting year. If the payable bonus is less than 100 rupees, an amount equal to 100 rupees shall be paid to an employee.
The payable bonus shall be disbursed within eight months after the closure of an accounting year, and it shall be paid in cash.
Contravenors of the provisions under this Act shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.
Statutes relating to Social Security
According to Fridlander, the term ‘Social Security’ may be defined as a program of protection provided by society against the contingencies of modern life like- sickness, unemployment, old age, industrial accident against which the individual cannot be expected to protect himself and his family by his own ability and his foresightedness. In accordance with our constitution, the state is responsible for providing social security to citizens of our country. Over time, social security of employees gained traction in India, and a slew of legislation was enacted to protect workers against contingencies like retirement, resignation, retrenchment, old age, unemployment, death and other similar conditions.
On March 4, 1952, the Employees’ Provident Funds and Provisions Act received the assent of the President after being passed in both houses of the Parliament. The social welfare legislation was enacted to provide social security to the workers of an establishment so that they could lead their life decently during their old age or on the happening of various contingencies such as voluntary retirement, retirement due to incapability of the employee to work, etc.
The Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 was enacted with the object for providing the institution of provident funds, pension fund, and deposit-linked insurance fund for employees in factories and other establishments.
It extends to the whole of India. This Act is applicable to every establishment which is a factory engaged in any industry mentioned under Schedule I of the Act, and in every establishment, twenty or more employees must be employed. The Central Government, by notification in the Official Gazette, may include any establishment to which this Act shall be applicable, employing twenty or more workers.
- Under this Act, the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, formulate a scheme to be known as the Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme to set up provident funds for employees.
- Every employer shall contribute 10% of the basic wages, dearness allowance and retaining allowance payable to employees to the Fund, and employees’ shall also contribute the same amount to it.
- The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, formulate a scheme to be known as the Employees’ Pension Scheme to provide superannuation pension and retiring pension to employees of an establishment. Widow or widower’s pension and children or orphan pension are payable to the beneficiaries of such employees.
- In order to provide life insurance benefits to employees of an establishment, falling under the jurisdiction of this Act, the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, formulate a scheme to be known as the Employees’ Deposit-linked Insurance Scheme.
In the pre-independence era, the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923 was enacted to ensure social security to workmen, but after getting independence, our policymakers felt the need to enact a slew of social security legislation to provide social security to workmen and protect them from getting exploited In 1948, one such Act, Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948, got the assent from the President that provides financial aid to workmen during their sickness, disability, maternity and other similar conditions.
The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 was enacted to provide financial aid to employees in case of sickness, maternity and employment injury and provide medical benefits to employees of factories and establishments and their dependants.
This Act is applicable to the whole of India. It shall apply to all factories, including factories belonging to the Government. However, this Act does not apply to seasonal factories.
- Under the provisions of this Act, every employee who gets employed in a factory or establishment to which this Act applies shall be insured.
- Under this Act, the contribution payable to an employee shall consist of the contribution payable by the employer as well as the contribution payable by the employee, provided the amount of payable contribution shall be determined by the Central Government. Then, the whole amount shall be paid to the Corporation.
- An insured person shall be entitled to get periodical payments in case of his sickness certified by a duly appointed medical practitioner. Such person may also claim sickness benefit, provided the conditions subject to which such benefit may be given, rates and period thereof shall be determined by the Union Government.
- An insured woman, who is certified by an appropriate authority, shall be entitled to get periodical payments in case of confinement or miscarriage or sickness arising out of pregnancy, confinement, premature birth of child or miscarriage. Such woman may also claim maternity benefit, provided the conditions subject to which such benefit may be given, rates and period thereof shall be determined by the Union Government.
- An insured person, who is certified by an appropriate authority, shall be entitled to get the periodical payment in case of his disablement that is caused during the course of employment. Such person who sustains temporary disablement for not less than thirty days or such person who sustains permanent disablement may claim disablement benefit, provided the conditions subject to which such benefit may be given, rates and period thereof shall be determined by the Union Government.
The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 is social welfare legislation, which was enacted to pay gratuity to workers for their dedicated services in an establishment. Earlier, only a few establishments used to pay gratuity to a specific class of employees. Ultimately, it was felt that every worker engaged in any establishment shall get gratuity from employers. Consequently, the Government of Kerala and the Government of West Bengal enacted the legislation for the same in 1970 and 1971 respectively. Thus, a need for uniform central legislation regarding the payment of gratuity was felt, and as a result of which, the whole matter was discussed in the Labour Ministers’ Conference held in August 1971 and the Indian Labour Conference held in October 1971. Finally, the central legislation for the payment of gratuity came into effect on September 16, 1972.
The legislative intent of the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 is to provide for a scheme for the payment of gratuity to employees engaged in factories, mines, oilfields, plantations, ports, railway companies, shops or other establishments and for matters connected therewith.
It extends to the whole of India. This law shall be applicable to every factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port and railway company. It shall also be applicable to every shop or establishment in which ten or more people are employed on any day of the preceding twelve months.
- An employee who has rendered continuous service for not less than five years shall get the payable gratuity after the termination of his service on the following grounds- superannuation, retirement or resignation, death or disablement due to an accident or disease.
- The employer shall determine the amount of payable gratuity to his employees and send a written notice to the person eligible to get the gratuity and the controlling authority mentioning the amount of gratuity payable to his employee. He shall pay the amount of gratuity within thirty days from the date it becomes payable to the employee.
- If an employee does not get the gratuity payable to him within the prescribed time, he shall make an application to the controlling authority regarding the same. The controlling authority, on receiving the application, issues a certificate to the collector to recover the payable amount, along with the compound interest incurred on the amount at an interest rate fixed by the Central Government from the date of expiry of the prescribed time.
Before the implementation of the Employee’s Compensation Act, an employer used to pay compensation to his employers if an accident had taken place due to his negligence. An employee was not entitled to get any compensation otherwise, and he had to bear all the loss arising out of medical expenses, deduction from wages and other reparations. In 1884, fatal and major accidents occurred in our country, which led to the formation of a committee consisting of Legislative Assembly, employers’ representatives, workers and experts in insurance and medicine. After meticulous observation, the committee submitted its report to the State, and this Act came into effect.
The Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923, social welfare legislation, was implemented with the object of paying compensation to workmen for an injury caused by an accident during the course of employment.
It extends to the whole of India. It is also applicable to those workmen who are recruited by the companies registered in India and sent abroad. However, this Act does not apply to those areas which are covered by the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948.
- In the course of employment, if an employee gets injured by an accident, his employer shall be liable to pay compensation as per the provisions of the Act.
- If an employee contracts any disease during the course of employment due to the nature of work, he shall be paid compensation because the contracting disease, which is also known as an occupational disease, is treated as an injury under the provisions of this Act.
- If an employee dies during the course of employment, his employer shall have to pay an amount equal to 50% of his monthly wages multiplied by the relevant factor or an amount equal to one lakh twenty thousand rupees, whichever is more.
- If an employee gets totally disabled permanently due to an injury caused during the course of employment, his employer shall have to pay 60% of his monthly wages multiplied by the relevant factor or an amount of one lakh forty thousand rupees, whichever is more.
- If an employee gets partially disabled permanently due to an injury caused during the course of action, his employer shall pay him an amount equal to the compensation given during the permanent total disablement, provided the injury is mentioned in Part II of Schedule I. If the injury is not specified in Schedule I, such percentage of the compensation payable in the case of permanent total disablement that is proportionate to the loss of earning capacity.
- If an employee gets temporarily disabled, his employer shall pay him a half-monthly payment of the sum equivalent to 12% of his monthly income.
Statutes relating to Working Hours, Conditions of Services and Employment
In order to regulate working hours, interval for rest, holidays, spread over, wages for overtime work, etc., these Statutes were enacted. After the enactment of these Statutes, every employer needs to follow the conditions of services that are prescribed by these laws, and they have no authority to alter these conditions.
The first Factories Act was enacted in 1881. After the enactment of the Act, it has been amended on several occasions, and finally in 1934, a newer version of the Act, drafted on the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Labour, was passed. However, there were several defects in the newer bill even after amending it several times. As a result, the administrative authority of factories was unable to regulate labour properly, which, in turn, hampered the growth of factories as well. Ultimately, on April 1, 1949, the Factories Act, 1948 came into effect, amending all the flaws of the previous Factories Act.
The Factories Act, 1948 was enacted with the object of consolidating and amending the law to regulate labour in factories. The Act primarily focuses on the health, safety, working conditions of adult workers, working conditions of young employees and welfare of the workers.
It extends to the whole of India. This Act is applicable to all such factories in which 10 employees or more are employed on any day of the preceding 12 months, provided the manufacturing process is being carried out with the aid of power. In those factories, where the manufacturing process is carried out without the aid of power, the threshold number of employees should be 20.
- Each factory shall be kept clean, and effective arrangements shall be made for the disposal of wastes and effluents. There shall be adequate ventilation by the circulation of fresh air and the level of temperature shall be maintained at such a level that workers could work comfortably without having any fear of getting injured. Every part of the factory shall be provided sufficient and suitable lighting. Moreover, no part of the factory shall be overcrowded to such an extent that can cause injury to workers. In every factory effective arrangements shall be made to provide pure drinking water to workers, sufficient latrine and urinal accommodation, and spittoons.
- In every factory, the machinery shall be securely fenced and the fence shall be constantly maintained and kept in position. No young person shall operate any machine unless he is properly instructed regarding the operation of machines. Furthermore, women and children are strictly prohibited to work near cotton openers. Floors, stairs and means of access shall be of sound construction and properly maintained. At the same time, effective measures shall be taken to protect the workers from dangerous fumes and gases, the explosion of inflammable dust and gas, and the outbreak of fire. The Act also states that every part of the factory shall be properly maintained and any part of the factory that is dangerous to the lives of workers shall be immediately repaired.
- In every factory, proper and adequate washing facilities shall be provided, along with the facilities for storing dry clothing and drying wet clothing. Facilities for sitting shall be provided to employees so that they could take a rest during their leisure. In every factory wherein more than 150 workers are employed. shelters, restrooms and lunchrooms shall be provided and maintained for the use of workers. Moreover, there shall be creches, rooms for the use of children under the age of six, in every factory wherein more than 30 women are employed.
- No adult worker shall be made to work more than 48 hours in any week. Moreover, he shall not be required to work in a factory on the first day of the week. No adult worker shall be made to work more than 9 hours in any day. At the same time, no worker shall work for more than 5 hours without getting an interval for rest of at least half an hour as well.
- In any factory, no child who has completed the age of 14 shall be made to work. In addition, a child who has completed his fourteenth year shall only get employment if he possesses a certificate of fitness. In every factory wherein children are employed, the manager shall maintain a register in which the nature of work, working period and information about children are recorded. The period of work for children shall be properly displayed in all those factories wherein children are employed.
The Labour Committee that was constituted in 1944-1946 identified that the employees were unaware of the employment conditions framed by their employers. The committee wanted to enforce legislation, making it obligatory for the employers to frame employment conditions and get them certified by an appropriate authority, that empowers the workmen to know every nuance of the employment conditions formulated by their employers. As a result of which, in 1946, the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 came into effect.
The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 was formulated with the prime object to require employers in industrial establishments formally to define conditions of employment under them. According to this Act, every workman shall have the right to know regarding the condition of work so that they could protect themselves from exploitation.
It extends to the whole of India. It applies to every industrial establishment wherein one hundred or more employees are working or were working on any day of the preceding twelve months.
- An employer shall submit five copies of the draft standing orders that he proposes to adopt in his industrial establishment to the Certifying Officer who is either a Labour Commissioner or Regional Labour Commissioner, along with the details of the workmen employed in his establishment including the name of the Trade Union they belong to if any. Provisions shall be made on every matter that is mentioned in the Schedule.
- Classification of workmen, e.g., whether permanent, temporary, apprentices, or probationers
- Manner of intimating to workmen periods and hours of work, holidays, pay-days and wage rates.
- Shift working.
- Attendance and late coming.
- Conditions of, the procedure in applying for, and the authority which may grant, leave and holidays.
- Requirements to enter premises by certain gates, and liability to search.
- Closing and re-opening of sections of the industrial establishment, and temporary stoppages of work and the rights and liabilities of the employer and workmen arising therefrom.
- Termination of employment, and the notice thereof to be given by employer and workmen.
- Suspension or dismissal for misconduct, and acts or omissions which constitute misconduct.
- Means of redress for workmen against unfair treatment or wrongful executions by the employer or his agents or servants.
- Any other matter which may be prescribed.
- Standing orders shall be approved and certified only if the provisions framed on each matter that is specified in the Schedule are in conformity with the provisions of this Act.
- The Certifying Officer, on receiving the copies of draft standing orders, shall send the draft copies to the Trade Unions or the representatives of the workmen to file any objection on any of the matters specified in the standing order. After hearing employers and the grievances of workers, he shall decide whether to modify or make any changes in the standing order.
Nowadays employers are keen to employ contract labour in their establishments because it not only enables employers to make contract labourers work at lower wages but it also helps employers to exploit them in every possible manner as they can not exercise the rights given to permanent workers. In order to protect the contract labourers in India from the exploitation of employers, the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act came into effect in 1970.
The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 was enacted with the object of regulating the employment of contract labour and introducing better conditions of work. This Act also aims at abolishing the employment of contract labour in those establishments where the work can be done by regular labourers, the work is done perennially, and the employment of permanent workers is necessary due to the nature of work, etc.
It is applicable to the whole of India. It applies to every establishment wherein twenty or more workmen are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding twelve months as contract labour. A contractor also comes under the jurisdiction of this Act if he employs or employed twenty or more workmen on any day of the preceding twelve months as contract labour.
- Both the Central Government and State Government shall constitute a board for taking advice on such matters arising out of the administration of this Act. The board constituted by the Central Government is known as Central Advisory Board while the board constituted by the State Government is known as State Advisory Board.
- Every principal employer of an establishment to which this Act applies shall make an application to the registering officer, who is appointed by the appropriate Government, along with all the required documents for the registration of his establishment under the provision of this Act. If the registering officers are confirmed that all criteria are met, he may register the establishment under this Act. A contractor needs to obtain a license under the provisions of this Act to undertake any work through contract labour.
- The employment of contract labour is strictly prohibited in any work in any establishment if it is done perennially, it is done ordinarily through regular workmen, it is sufficient to employ a considerable number of full-time workers and it is necessary for the industry, trade, business, manufacture or occupation that is carried on in the establishment.
- Those establishments that fall under the jurisdiction of this Act shall provide canteens, restrooms, pure drinking water, a sufficient number of latrines and urinals and first aid facilities to contract workmen.
In search of better job opportunities, workmen often migrate from one place to another. However, the migrant workers were not treated equally and discriminated against the native workers. The working conditions of the migrants were harsher than that of the native ones. In order to uphold the rights of migrant workers and protect them from exploitation, the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 came into force in 1979.
The Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979 was enacted with the purpose of regulating the employment of inter-State migrant workmen and providing for their conditions of service.
It extends to the whole of India. It applies to every establishment in which five or more inter-State migrant workers are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding twelve months and every contractor who employs or employed five or more inter-State migrant workers on any day of the preceding twelve months.
- The wage rates, holidays, hours of work and other conditions of service for inter-State workmen employed in an establishment shall be the same as those applicable to other workmen performing the same duty in the same establishment.
- Every contractor shall pay displacement allowance to every inter-State migrant worker which shall be equal to fifty per cent of the monthly wages payable to him or seventy-five rupees, whichever is higher.
- Every contractor shall pay journey allowance to every inter-State migrant worker, which shall not be less than the fare from the place of residence to the place of work.
- A contractor shall ensure that every workman gets regular payment, suitable working conditions, residential accommodation, medical facilities, equal pay for equal work, protective clothing. In case of a fatal accident, he shall report to the authorities of both the States and relatives of the workman.
The Weekly Holidays Act, 1942 came into force so that employees get a weekly off, that is any day during the week when employed persons are exempted from doing work and exempted from coming to the workplace as well.
The Weekly Holiday Act, 1942 was enacted with the purpose to provide for the grant of weekly holidays for a whole day to persons employed in shops, restaurants and theatres.
It extends to the whole of India. It applies to the persons employed to shops, restaurants and theatres.
- Every shop shall remain entirely closed once in a week. The owner of the shop shall specify the day of closure, and exhibit the notice in a conspicuous place in the shop.
- Every person employed in a shop, restaurant or theatre shall be allowed a holiday each week. However, this provision is not applicable to those employees who occupy a position of management in the shop. The persons employed in a confidential capacity are excluded as well.
- The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, provide additional half-day closing or holiday to the employees of shops, restaurants and theatres.
More than 1 million labourers who are employed in the plantation industry, i.e., tea, coffee, rubber and cinchona plantation, have been excessively exploited because of their illiteracy and lack of other employment opportunities. Most of the plantations are located in isolated areas. As a result, workers have no other option but to work on plantations to earn their livelihood. To date, their living conditions are most dismal as compared to that of workers employed in other industries. That’s why in 1951, the Parliament passed the Plantation Labour Act, 1951 to safeguard the rights of plantation workers and to protect them from exploitation as well.
The Plantation Labour Act, 1951 was enacted with the object of providing for the welfare of labour, as well as regulating the conditions of work, in plantations.
It extends to the whole of India. It applies to all tea, coffee, rubber and cinchona plantations. The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, apply it to other plantations as well.
- In every plantation, effective arrangements shall be made by an employer to provide a sufficient supply of pure drinking water, a sufficient number of latrines and urinals at convenient locations and medical facilities to his employees.
- The State Government may make rules that there shall be one or more canteens in every plantation wherein one hundred and fifty workers are employed, The canteens shall be provided and maintained by the employer. Moreover, educational, creche recreational and housing facilities shall also be provided to the plantation workers.
- An adult worker shall not work more than 54 hours, while an adolescent or child shall work for only 40 hours on a plantation. A worker shall not work more than 12 hours a day, inclusive of the period for rest and the time spent in waiting. Moreover, no worker shall work for more than five hours without having an interval for rest. A day of rest shall be given to all workers during a week.
- Every woman and child, who has completed his twelfth year, shall be made to work only between 6 A.M. and P.M.
The Mines Act came into force in 1952 to regulate the working conditions of those workers who were either working in mines below ground or mines above ground. This Act also restricts the employment of young employees and women in the mines below ground. The provisions of this Act also provides for the safety and health of mineworkers.
The Mines Act, 1952 was enacted with the object of amending and consolidating the law relating to the regulation of labour and safety in mines.
It extends to the whole of India.
- In every mine, effective arrangements shall be made to provide drinking water facilities, sufficient number of latrines and urinals and proper medical facilities. The Chief Inspector or an Inspector may give notice to the owner, agent or manager of the mine if the safety of mine workers are in danger due to the ongoing practices in the mine.
- No worker shall be allowed to work more than 6 days in a week.
- No adult worker shall be allowed to work for more than 48 hours in any week or for more than 9 hours in any day, provided a worker works above the ground.
- No adult worker shall be allowed to work for more than 48 hours in any week or for more than 8 hours in any day, provided a worker works below the ground.
- No person shall be allowed to work in any mine if he has not completed the age of 18 years.
- No woman shall be employed in any part of the mine which is below the ground. A woman shall work in those mines that are above the ground between 6 A.M and 7 P.M.
Those workers who are employed in any work within the vicinity of any port for the purpose of loading, unloading, movement or storage of cargoes,i.e, anything carried in a ship or vessel, into or from a ship, port, dock and storage place are known as dock workers. To provide for the safety, health and welfare of the dock workers, the Dock Workers (Safety, Health And Welfare) Act, 1986. came into effect in 1986.
The Dock Workers (Safety, Health And Welfare) Act, 1986 was enacted with the prime object to provide for the safety, health and welfare of dock workers.
It extends to the whole of India. It shall be applicable to every port. However, it shall not apply to any ship of war of any nationality.
- No dock worker shall wilfully alter or neglect the use of any appliance, convenience or other things that are provided for the purpose of securing safety, health and welfare of dock workers. Nor shall he wilfully and without any reasonable cause to take any such action that is likely to endanger his life or other workers’ lives.
- The appropriate Government may direct inquiry into cases of accidents or diseases occurring in connection with dock workers.
- The appropriate Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint the Chief Inspector and inspectors subordinate to him for the purpose of dock safety.
- If a person takes any step in a good faith then no legal proceedings shall lie against him.
- The appropriate Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, frame rules in accordance with the provisions of this Act to provide for the safety, health and welfare of dock workers. Effective arrangements shall be made to provide adequate ventilation and suitable temperature, fencing of machinery, fire and explosion protection, proper handling of dangerous substances, protective equipment, sanitary, washing and welfare facilities, medical supervision, ambulance rooms and first aid facilities, investigation of occupational accidents, dangerous occurrences and diseases, etc.
Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996
Those workers who are employed in the process of construction, repairs, maintenance and demolition of buildings, streets, roads, drainage, railways, etc. are generally known as the building or other construction workers. The Building and Other Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act was enacted in 1986 to regulate their employment and conditions of service.
This Act was primarily enacted with the object of regulating the employment and conditions of service of building and other construction workers. Moreover, this Act also ensures their safety, security and welfare during the course of employment.
It extends to the whole of India. It applies to every establishment which employs or had employed ten or more building workers on any day in the preceding year in any building or construction work.
- Every building worker who has been engaged in any building or other construction work for not less than 90 days in the preceding 12 months shall be eligible for registration as a beneficiary under this Act, provided his age should be greater than 18 years, but less than 60 years.
- Every building worker registered as a beneficiary shall be entitled to get the benefits from the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board constituted under the provisions of this Act. Some of the benefits are payment of medical expenses, maternity benefits, payment of pension and financial assistance in case of accidents etc.
- The appropriate Government It may provide a day of rest every week and provide for payment in respect of such days of rest, and if a worker works on the day of rest then it may also fix the wage rate which shall not be less than overtime wage as specified under the provision of this Act may fix the number of hours of work on a normal day for a building worker.
- Effective arrangements shall be made to provide drinking water facilities, sufficient latrines and urinals accommodations, temporary living accommodation at the construction site, creches, first aid and canteens to building workers.
- Safety committees shall be constituted for every establishment in which five hundred or more building workers are employed. The appropriate Government may also formulate policies for the safety and health of building workers. Such rules may include the following matters, namely- a safe transportation system, precautions to be taken in case of fire, safeguarding of machinery, proper handling of explosives precaution to be taken while demolishing any part of the building, and adequate and suitable lighting of every workplace, etc.
The Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act has been passed in 1996 to augment the resources of the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare board that was constituted under the provisions of the Building and Other Construction Workers (Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 to provide benefits to the building and other construction workers.
The Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act was enacted with the object of levying and collection of cess on the cost of construction incurred by employers. The collected cess shall be provided to the Building and Other Construction Workers” Welfare Boards that are constituted to provide benefits building and construction workers.
It extends to the whole of India.
- Cess shall be levied on the cost of construction incurred by an employer at such rate not exceeding two per cent, but not less than one per cent. It shall be collected and provided to the welfare board of the building workers.
- Every employer liable to pay cess shall have to furnish returns otherwise, a notice shall be given regarding the same.
- The appropriate authority shall decide the cess payable by an employer, depending on the returns he furnished.
A person who is employed or engaged in any work relating to the promotion of sales or business or both is known as sales promotion employees. The Parliament of our country passed separate legislation to safeguard their rights and regulate their conditions of service in 1976: The Sales Employees (Conditions of Service) Act.
The Sales Promotion Employees (Conditions of Service) Act, 1976 was enacted with the object of regulating the conditions of service of sales promotion employees in certain establishments.
It extends to the whole of India. It shall be applicable to every establishment engaged in the pharmaceutical industry. However, the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, may apply this Act to any establishment engaged in any notified industry.
- The Central Government may declare certain industries as notified industries if it finds employees of those industries are engaged in any work relating to the promotion of sales or business or both.
- Apart from holidays such as casual leave or other kinds of leave as may be prescribed, a sales promotion employee shall also be granted earned leave and leave on a medical certificate.
- Every employer shall issue an appointment letter to a sales promotion employee in the prescribed manner.
- The provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 and the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 shall be applicable to sales promotion employees.
Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act, 1988
In 1988, the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act came into force to ease down the process of furnishing returns and maintenance of registers in relation to small establishments. Employers in small establishments were exempted from obeying the complex processes involved in furnishing returns and maintaining registers.
This Act was enacted for the purpose of simplifying the procedure for furnishing returns and maintaining registers in relation to establishments employing a small number of persons under certain labour laws.
It extends to the whole of India.
- On the commencement of this Act, an employer of any small establishment to which a Scheduled Act applies shall be exempted from furnishing the returns or maintaining the registers required to be furnished.
- The commencement of this Act shall not affect any provision of a Scheduled Act that was followed in any small establishment in accordance with the Scheduled Act.
- The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, amend any form listed in the Second Schedule of the Act.
Statutes relating to Equality and Empowerment of Women
A slew of statutes was passed by the Parliament of our country to prevent discrimination against employed women. In most of the establishments, the wages of women were lesser than that of men even though both men and women do the work of similar nature. Moreover, women were often asked to work overtime without any additional wage, and in many cases, they were dismissed by their employers during the maternity period. By and large, women were exploited by their employers, which discouraged women from doing any work. The policymakers of our country passed several laws to ensure proper representation of women in the workforce. Some of the statutes are discussed below.
The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 was a great step taken by the Government of India to protect the employment of women while they undergo maternity. Before the enactment of this Act, the employers used to deduct the salary of a woman during her maternity period and some of the employers also used to dismiss them. This Act also includes several maternity benefits that an employer is liable to provide to every woman.
The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 was enacted with the prime object of regulating the employment of women in certain establishments for certain periods before and after child-birth. A woman shall also be entitled to get the maternity benefits under the provisions of this Act.
It extends to the whole of India. It is applicable to every factory, mine or plantation including any such establishment belonging to Government and to every establishment in which persons are employed to showcase equestrian, acrobatic or other performances. Moreover, this Act extends to every shop or establishment wherein 10 or more persons are employed, or were employed on any day of the preceding twelve months.
- No employer shall knowingly employ a woman for a period of six weeks following the day of her delivery. In addition, no woman shall work in any establishment during the six weeks from the date of her delivery.
- Every woman shall be entitled to receive her maternity benefits from her employer at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of her actual absence, provided the woman has worked not less than 80 days in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of her expected delivery.
- Every woman shall get nursing breaks to look after her child, apart from the interval for rest.
- Every establishment wherein fifty or more employees are employed shall have the creche facility.
- An employer shall not dismiss any woman who makes her unavailable for work in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
To fix the gender pay gap that existed in the majority of establishments, the Equal Remuneration Act was passed in 1976. Before the enactment of this Act, women were usually paid lower wages than men even after doing the same work or work of similar nature, which discouraged women from doing work as well. The Act not only encouraged women to start working but also protected their right to equality.
The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 was enacted with the object of providing for the payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers. It also prohibits discrimination against woman, on the ground of sex, when it comes to employment.
It extends to the whole of India.
- An employer shall pay equal remuneration to men and women workers employed by him if they perform work of similar nature. He can not discriminate against his employees on the ground of sex. To comply with the provisions of this Act, an employer shall not reduce the salary of any of his employees.
- No employer shall discriminate against women when it comes to recruitment for the work of a similar nature, promotions, training or transfer, except where the employment of women in such work is prohibited.
- The appropriate Government may constitute an Advisory Committee to take suggestions on how to increase the employment opportunities for women and to determine the extent to which women may be employed in such establishments or employments.
Prohibitive Labour Laws
Prohibitive Labour Laws were formulated by our legislators to ensure the extermination of bonded labour, child labour, sexual harassment of women at the workplace, and at the same time, these laws regulate the working conditions of young employees and women. Before the enactment of these laws, employers used to exploit child labourers and bonded labourers at a massive scale. The working conditions of women were dismal and they were also traumatised sexually. Therefore, a slew of such laws was enacted to curb the illegal practices of employers.
Bonded labour was a practice in which employers used to give loans at a high rate of interest to workers and in most of the cases, Primary Objective workers, earning a low wage, failed to return the loan to their employers. For the recovery of loans provided to workers, they were coerced to work as bonded labourers. To end the practice of bonded labour across the country, the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, was passed in 1976.
The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 was enacted with the object of abolishing bonded labour system to prevent the physical and economic exploitation of the weaker sections of the people.
It extends to the whole of India.
- The bonded labour system has been abolished and every bonded labourer has been absolved of rendering bonded labour.
- Every agreement, custom or tradition, contract or other instruments because of which a person is liable to work as a bonded labourer shall be void and inoperative.
- A bonded labourer shall be absolved of paying any bonded debt on the commencement of this Act. No suit shall lie against the bonded labourers in any civil court for the recovery of bonded debt. After the commencement of this Act, the property forcibly taken from a bonded labourer or a member of his family or other dependents for the recovery of bonded debts shall be returned by the creditor.
- All property of a bonded labourer shall be freed from any mortgage, charge, lien or other incumbrances on the commencement of this Act. All property shall be restored to him that was in the possession of the creditor due to bonded debt.
- No bonded labourer who has been absolved of rendering services as a bonded labourer shall be evicted from the residential premises in which he was living on the commencement of this Act.
Before the enactment of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act,1986, there were various acts which proscribed the employment of children below 14 years and 15 years in certain employments, but there was no such law in which proper guidelines were enlisted to categorise the employments hazardous or non-hazardous for the children to work in. There was no law regarding the regulation of the working conditions of the children during the course of employment. That’s why the Child Labour (Prohibition And Regulation) Act was enacted to protect the children from being exploited and to protect their basic rights as well.
The Child Labour (Prohibition And Regulation) Act, 1986, was enacted to regulate the child labour practices in India. It prohibits the engagement of children in certain employments and regulates the conditions of work of children in those employments in which they are allowed to work.
It applies to the whole of India. It shall be applicable to every occupation and process that are not mentioned in Part A and Part B of the schedule respectively.
- No child shall be employed in any of the occupations and processes specified in Part A and Part B of the Schedule respectively.
- In any establishment wherein a child is permitted to work in accordance with the provisions of this Act, he shall be allowed to work for such a number of hours as may be prescribed for such establishment. He shall not be allowed to work for more than three hours before he gets an interval for rest of at least half an hour. Moreover, he shall not work for more than six hours on any day, including his period for rest and the time spent in waiting for work. The working time shall not spread between 7 p.m. and 8 a.m.
- The appropriate Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules and regulations for health and safety of children permitted to work in any establishment.
The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act was given nod by the parliament of our country in 1966. Not only this Act regulates the employment of beedi and cigar workers but this Act also prohibits the employment of children in any beedi and cigar establishments and regulates the work of women and young people.
The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966 was enacted with the object of providing for the welfare of workers in beedi and cigar establishments and it also lays down guidelines regarding the conditions of their work. This Act also prohibits the employment of children and the employment of women and young people during certain hours.
It extends to the whole of India. It is applicable to those establishments wherein manufacturing process of beedi and cigar is carried out. It may be private homes or industrial premises.
- Suitable and effective arrangements shall be made to provide cleanliness in industrial premises, drinking water facilities, sufficient latrine and urinal accommodation, ventilation, washing facilities, first aid, canteens and creches.
- No employee shall work for more than five hours without having an interval for rest of at least half an hour.
- An employee in any industrial premises shall not be made to work for more than ten and a half hours in any day, inclusive of the interval for rest.
- Under the provisions of this Act, no child shall be allowed to work in any industrial premises.
- Women or young people shall be allowed to work in any industrial premises between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Not only does an employed woman face discrimination in terms of working condition but she also faces sexual harassment at the workplace. Apart from framing laws to ensure equal treatment of women at the workplace, the Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act was formulated to make sure that neither employer nor employee can sexually harass a woman during the course of employment.
The Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 was enacted with the object of providing protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace. This Act also includes the provisions regarding the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment.
It extends to the whole of India.
- No woman shall be sexually harassed at the workplace. If anyone makes an explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment, an explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment, an explicit threat about her present or future employment status or creates a hostile work environment for her, it shall amount to sexual harassment.
- Every employer shall constitute a committee to be known as the Internal Complaints Committee to address the complaints of sexual harassment.
- A local committee shall be constituted in a district to address the complaints of sexual harassment from establishments wherein the Internal Complaints Committee has not been constituted because of less number of workers.
- Every employer shall provide a safe working environment for women and organise awareness programmes regarding the treatment of women at the workplace at regular intervals. He shall also provide necessary facilities to the Internal Committee for conducting an inquiry upon the complaint of an aggrieved woman. If she chooses to file a complaint under the Indian Penal Code, the employer shall assist her.
Laws relating to Employment and Training
Laws were passed to make employment opportunities available to unemployed persons, having the required educational skills and experience. In addition, laws were passed to impart practical training, especially to young people so that they could get employment after learning the required skills. These laws were primarily made to uproot unemployment and encourage the unemployed youth to grab employment opportunities with both hands.
In 1961, the Apprentices Act was presented in the Parliament and on January 1, 1963, it came into effect. The legislation permitted the training of trade apprentices so that they could be transformed into skilled craftsmen, which in turn, would increase their employment opportunities. This Act lays down the guidelines regarding the training of an apprentice and the facilities that must be provided to him.
The Apprentices Act, 1961 was enacted with the object of providing for the regulation and control of training of apprentices.
It extends to the whole of India. This Act applies to that area or industry as an area or industry, specified by the Central Government by notification in the Official Gazette.
- A person shall qualify as an apprentice to undergo apprenticeship training in any designated trade if his age is not less than 14 years and he has acquired prescribed standards of fitness and education. In the case of designated trades related to hazardous industries, his age should not be less than 18 years.
- Every employer shall make effective and suitable arrangements in his workplace to impart a course of practical training to every apprentice. Those trade apprentices who have not undergone institutional training in a school or other institutes recognised by appropriate authorities shall be imparted the course of basic training. After undergoing the course of basic training, an apprentice can get admission in the workplace for practical training.
- Before the expiry of the period of training, an apprentice shall endeavour to transform himself into a skilled craftsman. Moreover, he shall attend practical and instructional classes regularly and obey the orders of his employers and superiors.
- After the expiry of the period of training, an apprentice may take a test to be conducted by the National Council or an appropriate agency authorised by the Union Government, If he succeeds the test, he shall be awarded the certificate of proficiency in the trade by the National Council.
An Employment Exchange is an organisation that aids unemployed persons to get employment as per their educational qualification and experience. In 1959, the Employment Exchanges (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act was passed which made it mandatory for every establishment in the public sector to notify the number of vacancies before filling them up so that unemployed persons could apply for those vacancies.
The Employment Exchanges (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959 was enacted with the object of providing for the compulsory notification of vacancies to employment exchanges.
It extends to the whole of India. It is applicable to every establishment in the public sector. The appropriate Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, may apply this Act to establishments of the private sector as well.
- This Act shall not apply to vacancies in any employment in agriculture, any employment in domestic service, any employment to do unskilled work, any employment connected with the staff of the Parliament, any employment the total duration of which is less than three months. This Act shall not apply to those vacancies which are supposed to be filled by the promotion of existing employees or by the absorption of the surplus staff. Moreover, it is not applicable to vacancies in employment in which the monthly wages are less than 60 rupees.
- An employer in every public sector establishment before filling up any vacancy in any employment shall notify that vacancy to employment exchanges. An employer in every private sector establishment shall also follow the same process before filling up any vacancy, provided the appropriate Government releases such a notification in the Official Gazette.
The Shops and Establishments Act, 1953 came into effect in 1953 in order to organise the unorganised sector of our country since 94 per cent of India’s working population is engaged in the unorganised sector. This Act basically regulates the conditions of service in the unorganised sector so as to protect an employee from experiencing exploitation during the course of employment. Moreover, this Act aims at providing benefits to the employees of the unorganised sector, just like the benefits given to an employee of the organised sector.
The Shops and Establishments Act, 1953 was enacted with the object of providing statutory rights and obligations to both employers and employees in the unorganised sector of employment.
Every state has framed its own rules for this Act. It is applicable to all persons employed in an establishment with or without wages, except the members of the employer’s family.
- Every employer of a shop or establishment shall compulsorily make an application to register his shop or establishment within thirty days of commencement of work.
- The closure of the establishment shall be communicated within 15 days from its closure.
- This Act not only regulates the working conditions of employees but also the benefits that should be given to them.
- It prescribes the working hours of an employee and the holidays he is entitled to.
- It also contains the provisions regarding the employment of children, women and young people.
- It also prescribes the wages of employees engaged in such establishments.
The Central Government, as well as the State Government, have enacted a slew of legislation not only to uphold the basic rights of labourers but also to protect them from the exploitation of their employees. Moreover, these acts also make an employer provide several benefits to his employees. Despite the enactment of labour laws, many employers are still committing atrocities on their employees because the labourers are still unaware of their rights or the authority responsible for ensuring the implementation of these laws is not effectively implementing it. Hence, the appropriate Government must ensure that labourers to be informed about their rights and the authority do its role in implementing every labour law.
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