Cabinet okays the bill merging 13 labour laws

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a bill that seeks to merge 13 central labour laws into a single code that deals with occupational safety, health and working conditions.

The proposed Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill, 2019, would enhance the coverage of workers manifold and is likely to be introduced in Parliament next week.

The New Code has been drafted after amalgamation, simplification and rationalisation of the relevant provisions of the 13 Central Labour Acts. According to an official statement, the bills that get subsumed in the code include The Working Journalist and other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service and Misc. Provision) Act 1955, The Working Journalist (Fixation of rates of wages) Act 1958, The Factories Act 1948 and The Mines Act 1952 among others.

"Safety, health, welfare and improved working conditions are pre-requisite for the well-being of the worker and also for economic growth of the country as healthy workforce of the country would be more productive and occurrence of fewer accidents and unforeseen incidents would be economically beneficial to the employers also," the statement said.

"With the ultimate aim of extending the safety and healthy working conditions to all workforce of the country, the Code enhances the ambit of provisions of safety, health, welfare and working conditions from existing about 9 major sectors to all establishments having 10 or more employees," it added.

Recently, the Union Cabinet approved the first Code (Code on Wages Bill) that will benefit over 40 crore workers.

Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar said this will benefit around 10 crore workers.

"In mines and port where even if one worker works, the law would be applicable. There are many places where workers don't get appointment letters. The bill provides for that. Regular medical check-up of workers would be made mandatory. We have also eased the process of compliance for employers," he said.

"There are states where still minimum wages of Rs 50, 60 and 100 per day are given. Now we have fixed the minimum wage of Rs 178 per day. But states can give higher than this. Now the date will be fixed for payment of wages. Sometimes workers don't get wages for months," Gangwar said.

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