Labour Laws
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This article is written by Hema Modi, a second year student of Pravin Gandhi College of Law, Mumbai. It provides an in-depth knowledge and critical evaluation of different Labour Laws. Different laws are enacted  to improve the condition of services for the employees and the way to provide safety and welfare measures and other factors relating to employment.

Matters related to employment in India are primarily governed by the Constitution of India. Some specific laws are framed from time-to-time by the Central and the State Government which are necessary from the point of view of society and its citizens. Since the Constitution of India came into force, the Indian legislation has taken major steps to improve the conditions of service of its workers or labourers working under different sections of the society.

This article will help readers to know what steps should be taken by the employers or companies to ensure the safety and welfare of its employees and other statutes relevant to it.

Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act, 1988

Aims and Objects

The Act was enacted to provide an exemption of employees with respect to establishments employing a small number of persons from furnishing returns and maintaining registers under certain labour laws. The main objective is to relieve the small companies from following tedious and cumbersome paperwork that is required under various labour laws which reduces the complexity under various laws. 

Some Relevant Definitions

Scheduled Act

Scheduled Acts are those acts which are specified in the First Schedule and has been enforced with the commencement of this Act.

Following are the acts which are included in the Scheduled Acts:

  1. The Payment of Wages Act, 1936
  2. The Weekly Holidays Act, 1942
  3. The Minimum Wages Act, 1948
  4. The Factories Act, 1948
  5. The Plantations Labour Act, 1951
  6. The Working Journalists and other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955
  7. The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961 
  8. The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 
  9. The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966
  10. The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 
  11. The Sales Promotion Employees (Conditions of Service) Act, 1976
  12. The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
  13. The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 
  14. The Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986
  15. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
  16. The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996

Small Establishments

Small establishments are those establishments in which ten to forty persons are or were employed on any day of the preceding twelve months.

Very Small Establishments

Very small establishments are those establishments in which not more than nine persons are or were employed on any day of the preceding twelve months.

Exemption from returns and registers required under certain labour laws

With the commencement of this Act, it is not necessary for an employer who has small establishments or very small establishments to submit returns or to maintain registers required to be submitted under the Scheduled Act.

Although, the employer has to provide the following information:

  • A core Return in Form A within reasonable time.
  • Small establishment shall register in Form B, Form C and Form D.
  • A very small establishment shall register in Form E.

Further, provided that, every employer shall continue to:

  1. Provide wage slip in the Form as prescribed in Minimum Wages (Central) Rules, 1950 made under the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. 
  2. File returns relating to the accidents according to the provisions of the Factories Act, 1948 and Plantations Labour Act, 1951.

Savings

By the commencement of this Act, the following will not be affected:

  • Any previous provision of the Scheduled Acts which was in effect, its validity, invalidity or consequence.
  • Any right, privilege or obligation acquired under any of the Acts mentioned in the First Schedule of this Act.
  • Any penalties or punishments inflicted under Scheduled Acts.
  • Any investigation or legal proceeding in accordance with the provision of Scheduled Acts.

Penalty

If an employer fails to comply with the provisions of this Act, he/she shall be guilty and will be penalised in the following manner:

  • If it is the first case of conviction of an employer, he/she shall liable for a fine up to Rs. 5000.
  • If it is a subsequent case of an employer, he/she shall be liable for imprisonment which may vary from one month to six months or fine which may vary from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 25,000 or both.

Amendment of certain labour laws

The Scheduled Act relating to Labour Law is in effect from the date of commencement of this Act i.e., from the day of enforcement of this Act, other laws are also in effect. 

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Power to amend Form

The power to amend Form rests with the Central Government if it thinks it to be fit. The Government shall issue notification through Official Gazette and it should be consequently passed by both the Houses. 

It should be presented before both the Houses as soon as the notification is issued or within seven days of its re-assembly. The Parliament shall pass a resolution for such notification within 15 days of the presentation and if any modifications or amendments are required, it shall have effect from thereon.

Power to remove difficulties

If there comes out any difficulty in the working or giving effect to the provisions of this Act, then the Central Government, by order, shall take necessary steps to remove that difficulty, but the order of the government should be within 2 years of getting assent from the President.

Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of  Service) Act, 1996

The main aim of this Act is to regulate Employment and Conditions of Service of building and other construction workers by ensuring their health, safety and other welfare measures concerned with them.

Applicability of the Act

This Act applies to every establishment which has or had employed ten or more than ten workers working in building or construction areas.

Registration of Establishments

Appointment of Registering Officers

The appropriate Government shall appoint such persons which it thinks to be perfect or fit to be the registering officers. The government by order or notification in the Official Gazette shall prescribe the limits and the powers within which such officers shall act.

Process for Registration

  • Every employer shall register its establishment within 60 days of the commencement of this Act. In other cases, it is mandatory for every employer to register their establishment within 60 days of the applicability of this Act. However, if the registering officer is satisfied that due to sufficient reason, there was a delay in registration, then he/she shall register after the expiry period also.
  • After the registration, the registering officers shall issue a certificate of registration to the registered establishment.
  • In future, if any changes or modifications are made in the ownership or management of the establishment, then the same shall be conveyed to the registering officer within 30 days of its change.

Revocation of Registration

The registration of an establishment can be revoked by the Registering officers in the following cases:

  1. If registration is obtained by misrepresentation or false information.
  2. If provisions of this Act are not complied with.
  3. If the registration has become useless or is not effective.

Registration of Building Workers

Who is a beneficiary?

Section 12 of this Act defines Beneficiary. According to this Section, any person who is more than 18 years but less than 60 years of age and has been engaged in building or other construction works for not less than 90 days of the year is a beneficiary.

Process for Registration

  • An application has to be submitted to the officer authorised by the Board in the prescribed format.
  • If the officer of the Board is satisfied with the documents provided and the rules provided, then he/she shall register the name of building worker as the beneficiary under this Act.
  • If the application for registration is rejected, an opportunity must be given to the applicant to prove his point.
  • In the case of dispute, the aggrieved party within 30 days of the judgment go for an appeal to the Secretary of the Board. If the Secretary is satisfied with the reason provided for the delay in the appeal process, then he/she shall entertain it. 
  • An identity card will be provided by the Officer to the beneficiary and such beneficiaries shall produce the same card whenever asked by an officer of the Government.
  • A register has to be maintained by the employer containing names and the duration of employment of a person as a beneficiary.

Hours of Work, Welfare Measures and Other Conditions of Service of Building Workers

Chapter VI of this Act provides for the hours of work, welfare measures and other conditions of service of building workers.

Fixing of normal working hours

The government shall fix a number of working hours in a day, including one or more specified intervals. It shall also specify a day of rest in a 7 days a week and also provide for the remuneration of that day which shall not be less than the overtime rate.

The above provision applies only if:

  1. The person is engaged in an emergency or any other urgent work which could not have been foreseen.
  2. The person is engaged in a preparatory or complementary work.
  3. The person is engaged in any technical work which has to be completed before the day completes.
  4. The person is engaged in a work which has to be carried out only during the natural calamity.

Welfare Measures

  1. Every employer shall provide for the clean drinking water at any building or construction ares located at suitable points which is convenient for all persons working there.
  2. Every employer shall provide for sufficient latrine and urinal accommodation at any building or construction work in progress at suitable points which is convenient for all persons working there.
  3. Every employer shall provide temporary accommodation free of charge within the area or nearby areas for the persons working there.
  4. First aid facilities should be provided by every employer
  5. If in any establishment there are more than 50 female workers, then the employer shall provide a separate room for the children of less than 6 years of age of such female workers.

Safety and Health Measures

Some of the safety and health measures which every employer shall provide under Section 40 of this Act are:

  1. A safe means of access to and the safety of the working place. 
  2. Precautions for the demolition of any part or the entire part of the building or any structure associated with that building.
  3. Preventing risk from the handling of explosives or any such products.
  4. Providing adequate and suitable lighting in every workplace.
  5. Precautions in case of fire.
  6. Limits of weight to be lifted by the workers.
  7. Safe transport of workers from the workplace to their residence and vice versa.
  8. Provision and maintenance of medical facilities to the workers.
  9. Safety in operating or working with electrical machinery or live wires, etc.
  10. Precautions to be taken for providing pollution free air, water, etc.

Relation with the provisions of the Employees’ Compensation Act

Employees Compensation Act was passed in 1923 which was to provide compensation to the workmen and other dependants in case of accidents leading to death or injury to them in the course of employment.

This Act was enacted when there was grave or serious injury caused to the employee either due to negligence of the employer or during the course of employment.

Section 3 of the Employees’ Compensation Act provides for the employers’ liability for compensation. Further, Section of the same Act provides for the calculation of compensation to be paid based on the amount of injury or loss or damage caused. The Act also prescribes for the penalty to the employers if there is a delay or default in payment of compensation. 

However, there are no stringent rules laid down by Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of  Service) Act, 1996 to ensure the safety and good conditions of service to the employees. Only guidelines are laid down in this Act which may or may not be followed if the executive is not very strict.

Further, in Section 44 and Section 45 of the same Act, there are laws which have to be followed by employers in order to pay compensation and wages. Evidently, it is mentioned that if an employer fails to pay compensation to the building worker, for which he is liable, in case of death or accident, is entitled to pay the entire amount of compensation according to the provisions of Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923.

This shows that there exists a certain relationship between this Act with the Employees’ Compensation Act.

Penalty

An employer is liable to the employees’ if he/she fails to act within the provision of this Act and is not able to provide safety measures and good conditions of service to its employees.

After due enquiry and legal proceeding, if the authority is not satisfied with the reasons provided, then he/she shall pass such orders:

  1. For the first contravention, the employer shall be punished with imprisonment of three months or with fine up to Rs. 2000 or  both. With each subsequent contravention, an additional fine of Rs. 1000 shall be charged.
  2. If the offender is repeatedly doing or committing the same offence despite penalty imposed under Sub-Section 1, then he/she shall be imprisoned for 6 months or a fine of Rs 2000 or both shall be imposed.
  3. In case, if the offence is committed by a company, then every person who at the time of the commission of offence was in charge of or responsible for the business of the company shall be held liable for punishment until and unless they prove that the offence committed was not in their knowledge or they were not part of that act.

Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996

The main objective of this Act is to provide for the levy and collection of cess on the cost of construction incurred by the employers.

Levy and Collection of Cess

  • The levied and collected cess for the purpose of the construction workers shall not exceed 2% and shall not be less than 1%. The cess levied shall be collected by the local authority or any other authorised person in the manner and mode as prescribed.
  • The collected cess has to be paid to the Board after deducting the cost of collection which shall not exceed 1% of the amount collected.
  • Every employer has to submit the returns to the officer as prescribed.
  • If any person fails to furnish the required returns, then the officer or the authority shall give notice to such person to furnish within the specified time.
  • In case of delay of payment of the cess, the employers are liable to pay interest of 2% for every month or every part of the month.

Penalty

If any person furnishes a return which may be false or incorrect, then he/she shall be punished with imprisonment of six months or fine of Rs. 1,000 or both.

If any person intentionally or wilfully evades the payment of cess, then he/she shall be punished with imprisonment of six months or fine or both.

In case, if the offence is committed by a company, then every person who at the time of the commission of offence was in charge of or responsible for the business of business shall be held liable for punishment until and unless they prove that the offence committed was not in their knowledge or they were not part of that act.

Power to make rules

The central Government is responsible for carrying out the provisions of this Act. Following rules shall be made by the government:

  • The manner and the time in which cess can be collected.
  • Fees levied for an appealing case.
  • Authority to which appeal may be filed and the time within which the appeal can be filed.
  • Authority to impose a penalty.
  • Powers exercised by the authority or the Officers.
  • Documents required while filing returns, the authority to which such returns shall be furnished and the manner and time of furnishing such returns.

Conclusion

India is a country where the labour force is in large quantity. These labourers are used in different industries and different workplaces. Usually, employers exploit them by making them work overtime. They don’t provide them with sufficient safety measures and health care facilities. Due to this, the productivity of labourers gets reduced and their working potential is also decreased. To increase their productivity and boost their potential, the government in order to promote social welfare tries to enact such laws in favour of workmen, so that they can work efficiently. The only requirement is to execute such beneficiary laws effectively so that labourers can enforce their rights bestowed to them by the government.


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