New Delhi: Initiating a major wave of reforms by implementing the four labor laws, setting up the National Social Security Fund to cover over 38 crore workers in the informal sector and making it easier to do business will be at the top of the Ministry of Labor’s agenda in the new year.
As a major step, the ministry launched the e-Shram portal on August 26, 2021 to create a national database of over 38 million employees in the informal sector. It will help the government ensure last mile delivery of benefits from various social security schemes to workers in the informal sector.
So far, progress in pushing forward labor legislation has been significant, as most states are ready with draft rules for the four codes, and the Center had strengthened the rules from the end, back in February 2021. The latter is a prerequisite for enforcing the new codes.
In the high order of enforcing the codes in 2022, it would ultimately help with the creation of the Social Security Fund for Informal Workers, Union Labor Minister Bhupender Yadav told PTI, “we are working on it. We are committed to social security. “We are committed to the welfare of the work. For that purpose, whatever it may be (required), we want to do.”
More than 17 million employees in the informal sector have registered on the e-Shram portal.
The central government has announced four labor laws. The Wages Code, 2019, was notified on 8 August 2019, while the other three – Code of Industrial Relations, 2020, Code on Social Security, 2020, and Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 – were notified on 29. September 2020.
The Social Security Code provides for the creation of a social security fund that will help bring workers in the informal sector under the social security network as well as welfare schemes.
Yadav expressed hope that all employees in the informal sector will be registered on the e-Shram portal by 2022, Yadav said, “we have taken many initiatives which show that our government takes care of poor people, especially e-Shram the portal launched by our ministry under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which received a huge response.
“The purpose is to record the data of the unorganized workers, and that is the mandate under the Social Security Act. I am also glad that all unions have wholeheartedly supported this mission.”
On the progress of the implementation of labor laws, Yadav told Rajya Sabha earlier this month that the Working Environment Act is the only code where the smallest number of 13 states have pre-released the draft rules.
The highest number of draft notices is pre-published on The Code on Wages by 24 states / UTs, followed by The Industrial Relations Code (20 states) and The Code on Social Security (18) states.
Experts are of the opinion that the implementation of labor legislation will not be as easy as it seems because there are differences with unions as well as industry.
One of the key issues is about the definition of salary, which limits allowances to 50 percent and allows for higher deductions from maintenance fund and gratuity. Once implemented, such an initiative will mean that employees’ home pay will eventually fall, and employers will also be required to restructure the pay structure.
In addition, there is a provision in labor law that any entity with up to 300 workers does not need permission from the relevant government for closure, dismissal and dismissal. At present, the threshold is 100 workers.
In addition, the unions also claim that there are other provisions that make it a bit cumbersome to form unions. “We are also ready to talk about issues during the tripartite event (event). So many forums have already been active,” Yadav said.
According to the Minister, the meetings of the Employees ‘State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) and the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) have been regularized.
“With a view to human resource management, infrastructure, IT, capacity building and public complaints, we have already appointed subcommittees under the EPFO as well as ESIC. It will strengthen the ministry’s function,” he pointed out.
With regard to evidence-based policy-making in 2022, the Minister mentioned four studies on migrant labor, domestic help and two institutional studies.
“Those reports will come (in 2022) and will certainly meet the Prime Minister’s views and mission, that is, evidence-based policy and targeted last-mile delivery. I think that will happen with that. In addition, we are strengthening our NCS (National Career Service). portal, “he said.
As of December 28, 2021, the NCS platform has 1.34 crore of active job seekers with approximately 1.7 lakh of active employers and approximately 2.21 lakh of active vacancies.
By 2021, the ESI scheme was expanded to 52 districts, bringing 2,31,495 employees along with their family members under it. The scheme is now available in 592 districts and it is proposed to extend the coverage of the scheme to all districts in the country by 2022.
Under Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana (ABRY), as of December 18, total benefits of Rs 2,966.28 crore have been given to 42,82,688 recipients through 1,20,697 institutions.