The Centre is likely to table two labour law amendment Bills in Parliament on Wednesday. The Bills entail amendments to the Apprenticeship Act 1961 and Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act 1988.
The Union Cabinet had given clearance to amendments made to these two labour laws, along with some changes to the Factories Act 1947, on July 30. Officials said they were waiting for the business hours to be notified by the Parliamentary Affairs by Tuesday evening. “These two Bills are expected to be taken up on Wednesday,” said a senior official. The ministry, officials said, is pushing hard to table the Factories Act too, which is currently with the Union law ministry as part of the broader consultation process.
On July 30, the Union Cabinet had cleared 54 amendments to the archaic Factories’ Act, 1948; changes to the Apprenticeship Act, 1961 and the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act, 1988.
Amendments to the Apprenticeship Act are expected to help the government fulfil its vision of implementing Skill India as 500 new trades, including IT-enabled services, would be included in the scheme, allowing more employers to participate in training and employment of such workers. Significantly, a draconian provision that called for arrest and imprisonment of employers who did not implement the Apprenticeship Act has been dropped.
Amendments to the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act will exempt firms employing up to 40 workers from complying with labour law regulations.
These firms will now also be allowed to file a combined compliance report for 16 labour laws, up from the current nine. The labour ministry has already signalled its intent towards a more business-friendly regime through the notification of a more flexible working system for oil rig workers earlier this month.