The Ministry of Labour has initiated fresh discussions over the four Labour Codes with trade unions and employers’ federations in order to create greater consensus and understanding about the provisions of the new laws. The Ministry is understood to have concerns about possible public opposition to the new Codes that have brought in various provisions on salary and provident fund payouts, as well as hiring and retrenchment.
The concerns come in the backdrop of the opposition and protests against the farm laws, which eventually led to their repeal.
“The new Codes are aimed at helping workers as well as the industry, but if people are not happy with them, then there is no point going ahead. Our objective is to ensure that both employees as well as employers understand the nuances of the codes and its benefits,” said a senior government official, adding that more discussions are being planned.
While trade unions and employers’ federations have time and again raised concerns on some of the provisions, the Ministry is also discussing the possibility of making changes in the Acts through notifications. “The Codes cannot be amended at this stage, but whatever is in the power of States and the Centre to be done through notifications will certainly be kept in mind. We are engaging with them on this issue as well,” the official said.
A number of State governments have come on board and finalised their draft rules for the Labour Codes. The Ministry of Labour is also keen on rolling out the Codes in the coming months, possibly before the end of the financial year.
Concerns on proposals
However, consensus building on the Codes is now a key part of the agenda before the Codes are formally rolled out. A number of concerns have been expressed on proposals to cap basic salary at 50 per cent, which would in turn lead to higher payout for provident fund. Similarly, the proposal permitting firms with up to 300 workers to decide on lay-offs, retrenchment and closure without government permission has also raised hackles.
To streamline and modernise the plethora of labour laws, the government had codified them to replace 29 labour laws into four codes including the Code on Wages, Code on Social Security, Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code and the Industrial Relations Code.
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Rameshwar Teli, on Thursday informed the Rajya Sabha that as per available information, 31 States and Union Territories have pre-published the draft rules under the Code on Wages, 2019; 26 on the Industrial Relations Code, 2020; 25 on the Code on Social Security, 2020; and 24 States and UTs on the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020.