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"Labour" is a subject in the "Concurrent List" under the Constitution of India where both the Central and State Governments are competent to enact legislations subject, however, to reservation of certain matters for the Central Government.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment seeks to protect and safeguard the interests of workers in general and those who constitute the poor, deprived and disadvantaged sections of the society, in particular, with due regard to creating a healthy work environment for higher production and productivity, and developing and coordinating vocational skill training and employment services. Government's attention is also focused on promotion of welfare activities and providing social security to the labour force both in the organised and unorganised sectors, in tandem with the process of liberalisation. These objectives are sought to be achieved through enactment and implementation of various labour laws, which regulate the terms and conditions of service and employment of workers.
The following are the thrust areas of the Government concerning labour laws:
India has a number of labour laws that govern almost all the aspects of employment such as payment of wages, minimum wages, payment of bonus, payment of gratuity, contributions to provident fund and pension fund, working conditions, accident compensations, etc. The Government has enacted certain central legislations, viz, the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, Employees State Insurance Act, Payment of Wages Act, Minimum Wages Act, Equal Remuneration Act, Maternity Benefits Act, etc.
The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (the "ID Act") has been enacted for the investigation and settlement of industrial disputes in any industrial establishment.
The Industrial Disputes Act defines "Industrial dispute" as a dispute or difference between workmen and employers or between workmen and workmen, which is connected with employment or non-employment or the terms of employment or with the conditions of labour. Dismissal of an individual workman is deemed to be an industrial dispute.
The ID Act provides for the constitution of the Works Committee, consisting of employers and workmen, to promote measures for securing and preserving amity and good relations between the employer and the workmen and, to that end, endeavours to resolve any material difference of opinion in respect of such matters.
The ID Act provides for the appointment of Conciliation Officers, Board of Conciliation, Courts of Inquiry, Labour Courts, Tribunals, and National Tribunals for settlement of disputes. Another method recognised for settlement of disputes is through arbitration. The Industrial disputes Act provides a legalistic way of settling disputes. The goal of preventive machinery as provided under the Act is to create an environment where the disputes do not arise at all. The ID Act prohibits unfair labour practices which are defined in the Fifth Schedule—strikes and lockouts (except under certain defined conditions and with proper notice). It also provides for penalties for illegal strikes and lockouts and unfair labour practices and provisions regarding lay off and retrenchment as well as compensation payable thereof.
The ID Act provides that an employer who intends to close down an industrial establishment shall obtain prior permission at least ninety days before the date on which he intends to close down the industrial establishment, giving the reasons thereof.
The Trade Unions Act, 1926 (the "Trade Unions Act") seeks to provide for the registration of Trade Unions in India and for the protection of the same. Further, the Trade Unions Act also in certain respects defines the law relating to registered Trade Unions like mode of registration, application for registration, provisions to be contained in the rules of a Trade Union, minimum requirement for membership of a Trade Union, rights and liabilities of registered Trade Unions, etc.
The Minimum Wages Act, 1948 (the Minimum Wages Act) provides for fixing of minimum rates of wages in certain employments. The minimum wages are prescribed by States through notifications in the State's Gazette under the Minimum Wages Rules of the specific State.
In terms of the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act, an employee means (i) any person who is employed for hire or reward to do any work, skilled or unskilled manual or clerical, in a scheduled employment in respect of which minimum rates of wages have been fixed; (ii) an outworker, to whom any articles or materials are given out by another person to be made up, cleaned, washed, altered, ornamented, finished, repaired, adapted or otherwise processed for sale for the purposes of the trade or business of that other person; and (iii) an employee declared to be an employee by the appropriate Government.
The term "wages" has been defined to mean all remuneration capable of being expressed in terms of money which would, if the terms of the contract of employment express or implied were fulfilled, be payable to a person employed in respect of his employment or work done in such an employment and includes house rent allowance but does not include:
Further, the Minimum Wages Act requires the employer to pay to every employee engaged in schedule employment wages at a rate not less than minimum rates of wages as fixed by a notification without any deduction (other than prescribed deductions, if any).
The Payment of Wages Act, 1936 (the Payment of Wages Act) is an Act to regulate the payment of wages to certain classes of employed persons. The Payment of Wages Act seeks to ensure that the employers make a timely payment of wages to the employees working in the establishments and to prevent unauthorized deductions from the wages.
According to the Payment of Wages Act, all wages shall be in current coin or currency notes or in both. It is, however, provided that the employer may, after obtaining the written authorisation of the employed person, pay him the wages either by cheque or by crediting the wages in his bank account.
The Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 (the "Bonus Act") provides for the payment of bonus to persons employed in certain establishments in India either on the basis of profits or on the basis of production or productivity and is applicable to every establishment in which 20 or more persons are employed and to all employees drawing a remuneration of less than Rs 10,000. Those employees who have worked for less than thirty days are not eligible to receive bonus under the Bonus Act. The Bonus Act provides for the payment of bonus between 8.33% (minimum) to 20% (maximum). However, for the calculation of bonus, a maximum salary of Rs 3,500 is considered.
The Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 (the "EPF Act") provides for the institution of provident funds, pension funds, and deposit-linked insurance funds for employees and applies to all establishments employing 20 or more persons or class of persons. An establishment to which the EPF Act applies shall continue to be governed by this Act, notwithstanding that the number of persons employed therein at any time falls below 20.
On account of 2014 Amendment to the said Act, The definition of "excluded employee" has been amended whereby the members drawing wages exceeding Rs 15,000 per month have been excluded from the provisions of the PF Scheme. Accordingly, the wage ceiling for an employee to be eligible for the PF Scheme has been increased from Rs 6,500 per month to Rs 15,000 per month. It further provides that every employee employed in or in connection with the work of a factory or other establishment is required to become a member of the Provident Fund.
The 2014 Amendment further lays down the following changes:
Contributions to the Provident Fund are to be made at the rate of 12% of the wages by the employers with the employee contributing an equal amount. The employee may voluntarily contribute a higher amount but the employer is not obliged to contribute more than the prescribed amount. Further, the EPF Act contains provisions for transfer of accumulations in case of change of employment.
In terms of power conferred under s 143(11) of the Companies Act, 2013, the Central Government has issued the Companies (Auditor's Report) Order, 2015 (CARO), which came into force on 10 April, 2015. Clause (vii) (a) of Paragraph 3 provides that:
The [Statutory] Auditor has to report, inter alia, on the following:
The CARO is, however, not applicable to a banking company, an insurance company, s 8 company, one person company, small companies and certain class of private companies, as specified under the CARO.
The Employees' State Insurance Act, 1948 (the ESI Act) is a social welfare legislation enacted with the objective of providing certain benefits to employees in case of sickness, maternity and employment injury. In terms of the provisions of the ESI Act, the eligible employees will receive medical relief, cash benefits, maternity benefits, pension to dependants of deceased workers and compensation for fatal or other injuries and diseases. It is applicable to establishments where 10 or more persons are employed. All employees, including casual, temporary or contract employees drawing wages less than Rs 15,000 per month, are covered under the ESI Act. This limit has been increased from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 w.e.f. May 1, 2010.
The Government enacted as the Employees' State Insurance (Amendment) Act, 2010 (No.18 of 2010). All the provisions of the ESI (Amendment) Act 2010 (except s 18) have come into effect from June 1, 2010. The salient features of the ESI (Amendment) Act are as under:
The employer should get his factory or establishment registered with the Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) within 15 days after the Act becomes applicable to it, and obtain the employer's code number.
The employer is required to contribute at the rate of 4.75% of the wages paid/ payable in respect of every wage period. The employees are also required to contribute at the rate of 1.75% of their wages.
It is the responsibility of the employer to deposit such contributions (employer's and employees') in respect of all employees (including the contract labour) into the ESI account.
The [State] Labour Welfare Fund Act provides for the constitution of the Labour Welfare Fund to promote and carry out various activities conducive to the welfare of labour in the State so as to ensure full and appropriate utilisation of the Fund.
The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 (the Gratuity Act) applies to (i) every factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port and railway company; (ii) every shop or establishment within the meaning of any law, for the time being in force, in relation to shops and establishments in a State, in which 10 or more persons are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding twelve months; and (iii) such other establishments or classes of establishments, in which 10 or more persons are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding twelve months, as the Central Government may, by notification, specify in this behalf.
The Gratuity Act provides for a scheme for the payment of gratuity to employees engaged in factories, mines, oilfields, plantations, ports, railway companies, shops or other establishments. The Gratuity Act enforces the payment of "gratuity", a reward for long service, as a statutory retiral benefit.
Every employee, who has completed continuous service of five years or more, irrespective of his wages, is entitled to receive gratuity upon termination of his employment, on account of (i) superannuation; or (ii) retirement; or (iii) death or disablement due to accident or disease. However, the completion of continuous service of five years shall not be necessary where the termination of employment of any employee is due to death or disablement.
The gratuity is payable even to an employee who resigns after completing at least five years of service.
The gratuity is payable at the rate of fifteen days wages for every year of completed service, subject to an aggregate amount of Rupees ten lacs only. However, if an employee has the right to receive higher gratuity under a contract or under an award, then the employee is entitled to get higher gratuity.