In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s directive to simplify procedures, especially to promote the ease of doing business, the labour ministry is clubbing together nearly 35 central laws in four new bills, one of which may be introduced during the ongoing budget session of parliament, officials said.
The officials told on condition of anonymity that the new bills will consolidate the existing laws under four heads: wages; safety and working conditions; social security and welfare; and industrial relations.
“Once the new bills are framed and passed, it will lead to ease of compliance. Rather than registering with authorities separately under existing laws, one will have to fill a single form for various labour laws. It will be like a single window service,” an official, who did not want to be named, told.
He said the four bills that will amalgamate laws under codes were a “top priority” of the Modi government and are a key part of the “labour reforms”. “The issue is being monitored at the top level,” the official added.
This is the second exercise being undertaken by the Modi government to lighten the statute book. Last year, it had begun the process of repealing 323 laws, most of them dating to the British colonial era. A bill is already pending in parliament to repeal 32 of these laws. Consolidating the different labour laws will reduce multiplicity and ensure better enforcement and compliance, another official told.
He said single window clearance for labour laws will also be in line with the government’s Digital India policy. The labour ministry has prepared a preliminary draft of the wages bill. “It will be deliberated at various levels and then go to the cabinet. The bill is expected to be introduced in the second half of the budget session,” the official said.
The wages bill is likely to club four laws, while the one on social security and welfare is expected to stitch together 18 laws. The one on safety and working conditions would put together 12 laws and the one on industrial relations is likely to club three different laws.
He said the new bills will not dilute the provisions of the existing laws but will give a fillip to the ease of doing business. “Rather than going to ten different places, a person can file one form,” the official added.
The procedure for simplifying and rationalizing labour laws will require them to be examined individually and provisions that have outlived utility would be deleted. Some laws that have outlived their utility may also be repealed, said an official.
He said there were 44 central labour laws. The second National Commission on Labour had recommended that labour laws should be broadly grouped into four-five categories, he said.
The report of the Working Group on Labor Laws and other Labour Regulations for the 12th Five Year Plan had also recommended clubbing together of laws. It said that consolidation of labour laws and “harmonization of key definitions in select cognate groups” would lead to better adherence, reduce the cost of administration and help improve implementation as fewer register logs would need to be maintained.
The report also said that simplifing the rules would have a positive impact on boosting regular employment. Modi has repeatedly laid thrust on simplifying government procedures. He has also said that ease of doing business was the most important component for success of the government’s Make in India initiative.
As part of its moves towards labour reforms and ease of doing business, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had last October unveiled the Shram Suvidha portal to simplify compliance with 16 labour laws
through a single online form.
Officials said the three industrial relations laws likely to be consolidated are the Trade Unions Act, the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act and the Industrial Disputes Act.
The safety and working conditions laws likely to be clubbed include those relating to weekly holidays, factories, plantation labour, mines, dock workers, building and other construction workers, contract labour, child labour and working journalists.
The social security and welfare laws to be put together include those concerning employees’ compensation, Employees State Insurance Act, employees’ provident funds, maternity benefit, gratuity, unorganized workers, beedi and cigar workers, iron ore mines workers and cine workers. (IANS)