THE NEW LABOUR CODE
Two labour reform bills introduced by the government in the Lok Sabha on July 23 evoked sharp reactions from various stakeholders. While the Code on Wages Bill, 2019 was passed by Parliament, the other bill—the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (OSHWC) Code, 2019—is still pending in the Lok Sabha. On the face of it, the two bills look designed to ensure worker welfare
as well as facilitate ease of business. The Code on Wages Bill seeks to improve the wage and bonus payments rules, besides mandating a national minimum wage, and the OSHWC aims to improve working conditions. In November 2018, the International Labour Organization said that 31 per cent of Indian workers were working in unhealthy conditions while around 41 per cent of them said they were poorly paid, giving India a bottom-end rank of #19 among 22 countries of the Asia-Pacific region.
The bills are being marketed as the government’s push to reform and simplify the country’s complex labour laws. For instance, ‘wages’ alone has 11 definitions under different laws. The new proposed law will consolidate all central laws into four codes—wages, industrial relations, social security, and industrial safety and welfare. The