Guaranteed minimum wages would become a reality for the country’s entire workforce with the labour ministry proposing to table the draft Code on Wages in the coming winter session of Parliament.
The passage of the Bill would also mark the beginning of the long-pending overhaul of labour laws in the country.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of an event here, labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya said the group of ministers (GoM), headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley, would on Thursday deliberate on the draft code that also seeks to streamline the definition of wages by amalgamating four wage-related statutes – The Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.
“The tripartite meeting on the wage code is over. The GoM will deliberate on the code tomorrow (Thursday) and after this, the draft would be sent for the Cabinet approval. This will be tabled in the winter session of Parliament,” he said.
After assuming office, the Narendra Modi dispensation embarked on labour reforms aimed at ensuring the ease of doing business in which India is lagging at the 130 spot in the world. The plan is to amalgamate 44 extant labour-related Acts into four codes. Code on Wages is one of them. The other three are code on industrial relations, code on social security and code on working condition.
Workers in 45 scheduled categories of employment are currently under the Centre’s minimum wages umbrella and 1,679 categories under the state’s domain.
However, the implementation is often lax as norms are voluntary for the states. The government’s plan to make it mandatory across the country and extend it to all segments would ensure that each worker gets a minimum wage.
The Centre’s plan to include the new proposal in the labour code on wages is to ensure decent living and working conditions for them.
The Centre’s plan to bring the entire unorganised sector under a minimum wage stems from the idea of making employment respectable and ensuring that everyone gets decent wages at the end of the month at a fixed date. The current dispensation also intends that they are entitled to paid leaves and a fixed working hour. This is also to ensure that they are not exploited at the hands of the employers.
The code on wages would also seek to give the power of fixation and revision of minimum wages, which at present vests with both central and state governments, to lie exclusively with the state government. The draft legislation proposes payment of wages through bank accounts and continuing provisions of social security without dilution.
Dattatreya said the GoM would also discuss the Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Bill, 2014 in tomorrow’s meeting. The Bill seeks to combine provisions of various labour laws applicable to small factories, facilitating ease of compliance and reporting.