The Narendra Modi government in its second term would streamline several existing labour laws into a set of four labour codes in a move aimed at reducing disputes, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said while presenting the Budget on Friday.
“The government is proposing to streamline multiple labour laws into a set of four labour codes. This will ensure that process of registration and filing of returns will get standardised and streamlined,” said Sitharaman. “With various labour-related definitions getting standardised, it is expected that there shall be less disputes,” she said.
In its previous tenure, the Modi government tried pushing labour reforms. However, these amendments were opposed by trade unions.
The government wants to concise 44 labour laws into four broad codes on wages, social security, industrial safety and welfare, and industrial relations.
Earlier this week, the Cabinet approved the Code on Wages Bill to subsume existing laws related to workers’ remuneration and enable the Centre to fix minimum wages for the entire country.
The government intends to push the Bill in the ongoing session of Parliament.
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In its previous tenure, the Modi government had introduced the wages code Bill in the Lok Sabha on August 10, 2017. The Bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, which submitted its report on December 18, 2018, but it lapsed after the 16th Lok Sabha was dissolved in May.
The Bill will replace the current Payment of Wages Act, 1936, Minimum Wages Act, 1948, Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. It provides that the Central government will fix minimum wages for certain sectors, including railways and mines, while the states would be free to set minimum wages for another category of employment.
The code also provides for setting up of a national minimum wage. The Central government can set a separate minimum wage for different regions or states.
The draft law also says that the minimum wage would be revised every five years.
The remaining codes are in a pre-legislative stage.