Activists find holes in draft Placement Agency Bill

Govt to hold awareness campaign

The state labour department may run a three-week awareness campaign on the rights of workers and provisions of the draft Delhi Placement Agency Bill, which is likely to be passed soon.


“This is not final but as soon as the Bill is passed, the department will hold such campaigns to spread a strong message against illegal placement agencies and why people should not hire workers without checking the agency’s licence,” said a source who is working closely with the government on the matter.


Some rights groups are holding meetings to discuss issues related with the draft Bill, and are likely to submit suggestions by Friday.


During one such meeting on Wednesday hosted by NGO Save the Children, experts pointed out that clauses in the Bill are unclear and lack basic points, such as the process of licensing and monitoring.


Former Child Welfare Committee chairperson Raj Mangal Prasad said activists must push for inclusion of at least two or three representatives in the drafting procedure to ensure that the recommendations are considered.

 

“The most prominent issue is that the Bill has a clause about restricting employers from hiring anybody below 18 years. This is in conflict with the Child Labour Prohibition Protection Act, 1986. The department needs to amend the 1986 Act to specify a child’s age,” said Prasad.


He said the Bill must raise the punishable limit for placement agencies from two to three years, and make this a non-bailable and cognisable offence to make it easier for the government to track offenders.


Experts have decided to raise objections on the unclear definition of ‘private placement agencies’ and restriction of the Bill to only agencies that provide domestic workers and guards. They will also object to the vague definition of a ‘domestic worker’, verification process of the worker’s age and complete lack of grievance redressal mechanism for workers, among others.


“There are several make-shift and mobile agencies that people just need to call if they need a worker and get one within 24 hours. How will this Bill help curb their activities?” said Sanjay Gupta from Chetna.


Bhuvan Ribhu, a lawyer-activist and petitioner of the regularisation of placement agency case in the High Court, which led to the drafting of this Bill, said that on July 30 the Supreme Court had accepted the recommendations given by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan and the next date of hearing is on September 18.


“The court and the labour department are considering the suggestions. We will also bring up the point of how to accommodate the homeless under this Bill’s ambit,” said Ribhu.

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