Any business entity with 10 or more workers will mandatorily be required to issue appointment letter and also get the medical check-up done annually for all its workers. Also, women can voluntarily opt for working in night shift.

All these are part of Code of Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill, 2019, which was approved by the Cabinet in its meeting on Wednesday. This is the second of the four codes that aim to merge 44 labour laws. Just last week, the Cabinet approved the Code on Minimum Wages Bill that prescribes mandatory minimum wages beside other things. Now, both of these Bills will be tabled in the Lok Sabha during ongoing session.

Occupational safety

The Code of Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill, 2019 has been drafted after amalgamation, simplification and rationalisation of the relevant provisions of the 13 Central Labour Acts. It would enhance the coverage of the safety, health and working conditions provisions manifold as compared to the present scenario. Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar told reporters that the new Bill will cover over 40 crore workers in the informal sectors.

The new Bill has envisaged uniform threshold for welfare provisions such as crèche, canteen, first aid and welfare officer.

Another provision says that a part of the penalty for contravention of provisions leading to death or serious bodily injury to any person may be given to the victim or the legal heirs of the victim by the court.

The part of penalty would help in rehabilitation of injured worker or provide financial support to the family of deceased.

The Bills also talk about permitting women to work beyond 7 pm and before 6 am subject to safety, holidays, working hours or any condition as prescribed by appropriate government in respect of prescribed establishments and only after taking their consent for night work, the Bill says.

Ease of doing business

Gangwar also informed that the Bill has provisions not only for the benefit of workers but also aims to ensure ease of doing businesses for firms. It prescribes one registration for an establishment. At present six labour Acts out of 13 provides for separate registration. The provision of one licence one return in place of multiple licences and returns in existing 13 labour laws subsumed in the code. One licence and one return would save time, resources and efforts of establishments.

According to a government statement, safety, health, welfare and improved working conditions are pre-requisite for 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 less accidents and unforeseen incidents would be economically beneficial to the employers also. 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 nine major sectors to all establishments having 10 or more employees.