Two key labour reform bills may not come up in the Monsoon Session of Parliament beginning next month while legislations on three populist measures could be introduced.
Progress is slow on key bills like Industrial Relations Code and Small Factories Bill, which are aimed at improving ease of doing business in the country, sources said.
“The Labour Ministry is going slow on labour reforms in view of the government’s focus on job creation and safeguarding workers’ rights,” a source said.
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The source further said the Ministry is unlikely to move those bills which would improve ease of doing business and in the Monsoon Session they would rather push for passage the bills that seek to provide more facilities and benefits to workers and safeguard their rights.
The Ministry will push bills including Maternity Benefit Bill, Employees’ Compensation Bill, Employees’ Provident Fund Amendment Bill and Child Labour Bill.
The Maternity Benefit Bill seeks to enhance maternity leave to 26 weeks from existing 12 weeks. The Employees’ Compensation Bill aims to enhance maximum compensation amount in case of any injury to workers without going to high courts.
The EPF Bill seeks to reduce the threshold for coverage of firms under the social security scheme run by retirement fund body EPFO to 10 workers from existing 20 workers. This is expected to cover 50 lakh more workers under EPFO schemes.
The Child Labour Bill, which is already pending in Parliament, can be passed during this session. It seeks to prohibit employing children below 14 years in all occupations.
The source said progress is slow on bills that have been bone of contention and are being opposed by trade unions. These include the Industrial Relations Code and the Small Factories Act.
The source further said the Industrial Relations Code Bill is still stuck in Law Ministry for approval while Small Factories Bill was sent to Cabinet months ago for its nod.
The Industrial Code Bill combines Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, Trade Unions Act, 1926, and the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.
The provision relating to easing retrenchment, lay off and closure norms and tougher rules for forming unions in the proposed bill has led to uproar by central trade unions. They went on nationwide strike on September 2, 2015 to protest against proposed amendments to labour laws to improve ease of doing business including through Industrial Code and Small Factories Bill.
The Small Factories Bill aims to improve ease of doing business and create an ecosystem for encouraging small businesses. It seeks to exempt small units with less than 40 workers from tedious compliance of 14 labour laws including Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act and Employees State Insurance (ESI)Act.
As per the Bill, such units can buy health insurance and provident funds products available in the market instead of subscribing to the mandatory social sector schemes of Employees State Insurance Corporation and Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).