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Govt unlikely to slow down on labour reforms in 2018

General elections being just over one year away notwithstanding, the government is not looking at slowing down on labour reforms in 2018 and is likely to get at least two codes on wages as well as industrial relations passed by Parliament.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment has envisaged to concise over 44 labour laws into four broad codes in wages, industrial relations, social security, and occupational safety, health and working conditions.

Labour Secretary M Sathiyavathy expressed the ministry’s intent to push all four codes for passage in Parliament next year.

“Government is not going slow on labour reforms. All four codes would be pushed in 2018,” she said.

The codification of the labour laws will remove the multiplicity of definitions and authorities leading to ease of compliance without compromising wage security and social security to workers.

The draft Code on Wages Bill 2017 was introduced in the Lok Sabha in August 2017. The bill will be pushed for consideration and passage in the Lok Sabha and subsequently in the Rajya Sabha in 2018.

The Code on Wages rationalises, amalgamates and simplifies the relevant provisions of the four labour laws– The Minimum Wages Act, 1948; The Payment of Wages Act, 1936; The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

Similarly, Code on Industrial Relations Bill has been finalised by a group of ministers headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and is likely to be approved soon for putting it before Union Cabinet so that it could be pushed for passage in Parliament next year.

The Trade Unions Act, 1926, the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, and the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, would be combined into the code on industrial relations.

The unions had objected the proposed amendment in the bill to allow units with up to 300 workers to retrench, lay off or close down without the permission of the government. Presently, all units with up to 100 workers can retrench, lay off or close down without the government’s permission.

The government is most likely to keep this provision in the new code. Therefore, the codification of industrial relation laws would not allow businesses to hire and fire abruptly.

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