Going full steam ahead with long pending labour reforms, the NDA government plans to amend the Minimum Wages Act that was enacted at the time of Independence.
As part of the amendments, the labour ministry plans to set a national floor for minimum wages for workers across professions. The minimum wages would be revised every five years by the Centre in accordance with the NSSO’s consumer expenditure survey and it would also be revised every six months according to the consumer price index by states.
This could result in a significant jump in salaries of unorganised sector workers, whose minimum wages are currently just about Rs 150 for some professions.
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The proposed changes, which are a part of the Minimum Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2013, has now been put out for public comments by the labour ministry. “All comments should be submitted by June 30,” said the labour ministry.
The planned changes also provide for enhanced penalties and imprisonment for defaulters as well a higher compensation to workers.
Though the amendments were planned by the previous UPA government, the Bill was never placed in the Parliament. At present, the Act only covers 45 employments in the Centre and about 1,600 professions at the state level.
This is the latest move by the new government to push through key labour reforms that have dented India’s attractiveness as an investment destination and also impacted the domestic manufacturing sector. Over the last one week, the labour ministry has begun reviewing pending legislations including amendments to the Factories’ Act, Industrial Disputes Act and Child Labour Act.