Industry and employer representatives have urged the government to roll out the four labour codes at the earliest, and even to go for a staggered or phased implementation, if needed.

This comes amid concerns that the four codes, aimed at simplifying and modernising the labour laws, have already been delayed and could face further delays as many States are yet to finalise their draft laws and more consultations are underway.

“The view is that the codes should be rolled out at the earliest so that the benefits in terms of formalisation of the workforce, ease of doing business and simplifying the regulatory ecosystem can begin to flow in. Any changes that are needed can be done once the codes are rolled out,” said Rituparna Chakraborty, Co-founder and Executive Director, TeamLease. 

She further pointed out that the Ministry of Labour and Employment has already done a lot of work to bring about the new codes and it would be disappointing if they were not rolled out now.

Lohit Bhatia, President, Indian Staffing Federation, also said it is important that the government gives a dateor deadline for the roll out of the codes.

“We are encouraged by the Labour Codes. We have requested the Labour Ministry that if it is taking longer in implementation and if they feel it will be a Herculean task to roll them all out together, then they can come up with a road map to say the four codes will be launched in a staggered manner,” he said.

Domestic industry as well as international investors have been closely monitoring the progress of the four labour codes that have been in the making for the last few years. The government has codified 29 national labour laws into four codes, including the Code on Wages, the Code on Social Security, Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, and the Industrial Relations Code.

Delay in implementation

The Codes were passed by Parliament in 2019 and 2020 but faced a delay in implementation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Industry was hopeful that the codes would come into effect on April 1 this fiscal and is now hoping that they will be rolled out during the course of the current fiscal. A major concern is that with the 2024 General Elections not too far away, the roll out of the codes should not be delayed.

The Labour Ministry too has indicated that it would like to implement the codes over the next few months and would ensure a mid-year roll out. 

The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Rameshwar Teli, had recently 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; on the Code on Social Security, 2020; and 24 States and UTs on the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020.