The Code of Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill, 2019 has been drafted and approved by cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It would enhance the coverage of the safety, health and working conditions provisions manifold as compared to the present scenario.
The New Code has been drafted after amalgamation, simplification and rationalisation of the relevant provisions of the 13 Central Labour Acts:
- The Factories Act, 1948
- The Mines Act, 1952
- The Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986
- The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996
- The Plantations Labour Act, 1951
- The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970
- The Inter-State Migrant workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979
- The Working Journalist and other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service and Misc. Provision) Act, 1955
- The Working Journalist (Fixation of rates of wages) Act, 1958
- The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961
- Sales Promotion Employees (Condition of Service) Act, 1976
- The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966
- The Cine Workers and Cinema Theatre Workers Act, 1981
Safety, Health, welfare and improved Working Conditions are pre-requisite for well-being of the worker and also for economic growth of the country as healthy workforce of the country would be more productive and occurrence of less accidents and unforeseen incidents would be economically beneficial to the employers also. With the ultimate aim of extending the safety and healthy working conditions to all workforce of the country, the Code enhances the ambit of provisions of safety, health, welfare and working conditions from existing about 9 major sectors to all establishments having 10 or more employees.
- The code will be applicable to all trades, including IT establishments and service sector, where more than 10 workers are employed; it will be applicable to mines and docks that employ even one worker.
- The Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill, 2019, which would impact “40 crore unorganized workers”.
- The code makes it mandatory for employers to provide free annual medical check-ups and issue appointment letters to all employees. The multiple committees under five labour Acts would be replaced by the National Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board.
- The code also framed rules for women workers working night shifts. Women permitted to work beyond 7 p.m. and before 6 a.m. subject to the safety, holidays, working hours or any other condition as prescribed by appropriate government in respect of prescribed establishments. However, only after taking their consent for night work (sic).
- The new Bill has envisaged uniform threshold for welfare provisions such as crèche, canteen, first aid and welfare officer.
- Bill provision says that a part of the penalty for contravention of provisions leading to death or serious bodily injury to any person may be given to the victim or the legal heirs of the victim by the court.
The decision comes a week after the Cabinet gave its goahead to a labour code on wages, signalling the government’s commitment to push labour reforms in its second term.