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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Amid Centre prodding, 9 states finalise rules for 4 labour codes

While the Code on Wages was approved by Parliament in 2019 and rules too were finalised, the ministry held back its implementation because it wanted to enforce all the four codes in one go.

Written by Aanchal Magazine | New Delhi |
November 11, 2021 1:20:20 am
labour laws, narendra modi new labour codes, labour laws implementation in Maharashtra, maharashtra news, indian express newsUnder the new code, companies with less than 300 workers will be allowed to hire and fire workers without seeking prior government permission. This has been increased from the current threshold of 100 or fewer employees.(Representational)

As many as nine states/UTs — Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir — have finalised draft notifications for rules for all the four proposed labour codes. This marks a step ahead for the implementation of the labour codes, which were passed by Parliament over a year ago.

The Central government has been holding regular meetings with the states to assess the progress of the rule-framing process of the four labour codes, which will mark the amalgamation of 44 Central labour laws into four broad codes on wages, industrial relations, social security, and safety and working conditions.

“The rule-framing process takes time. States are progressing well. Labour being a concurrent subject, states will have to frame their rules and only then can the codes be implemented in their entirety. The Labour Ministry had held a recent meeting with states on November 9 and they are progressing well,” a senior government official told The Indian Express.

Among the four labour codes — Code on Wages, Industrial Relations Code, Code on Social Security and Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code — the Code on Wages has seen the highest number of states issuing draft rules. While 21 states have completed the rulemaking process for this code, 18 have done so for the Industrial Relations Code, 14 states for Code on Social Security and 10 states for Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, the official said.

“The government is not focusing on any specific deadline but is closely monitoring the legal processes being carried out by states. States need to discuss all legal ramifications of the rules before the codes get implemented on a national scale,” the official added.

Along with finalisation of rules for the four labour codes, work is also underway for fixing the national floor for minimum wages, the official said. The Labour and Employment Ministry had in June this year constituted an expert group to provide technical inputs on fixing a national floor for minimum wages.

Parliament had given its nod to the four labour codes last year. With labour a concurrent subject, both the Centre and state governments will have to frame laws and rules. The draft rules are prepared by the legal department, which are then circulated for publication, after which 45 days are set aside for feedback from stakeholders. The feedback is then considered and changes, if required, are made for preparation of the final publishing and notification of the rules.

Central rules are applicable to public sector undertakings, railways, ports, while states will have to formulate the rules modelled on central rules for establishments under their jurisdiction.

The Labour Ministry had earlier envisaged implementation of the four labour codes from April 1 this year. The Ministry had circulated rules under the codes, except for the Wage Code, in November last year for feedback from stakeholder.

While the Code on Wages was approved by Parliament in 2019 and rules too were finalised, the ministry held back its implementation because it wanted to enforce all the four codes in one go.

Among other things, the codes propose a minimum wage for workers, a widening of social security net for workers to include gig and platform workers. They will also provide greater flexibility to employers to hire and fire workers without government permission.

Under the new code, companies with less than 300 workers will be allowed to hire and fire workers without seeking prior government permission. This has been increased from the current threshold of 100 or fewer employees.

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