The Occupational Safety, Health And Working Conditions Code, 2020
Labour falls under the Concurrent List of the Constitution. Therefore, both Parliament and state legislatures can make laws regulating labour. The central government has stated that there are over 100 state and 40 central laws regulating various aspects of labour such as resolution of industrial disputes, working conditions, social security and wages. The Second National Commission on Labour (2002) found existing legislation to be complex, with archaic provisions and inconsistent definitions. To improve ease of compliance and ensure uniformity in labour laws, it recommended the consolidation of central labour laws into broader groups such as: (i) industrial relations, (ii) wages, (iii) social security, (iv) safety, and (v) welfare and working conditions.
In 2019, the Ministry of Labour and Employment introduced four Bills to consolidate 29 central laws. These Codes regulate: (i) Wages, (ii) Industrial Relations, (iii) Social Security, and (iv) Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions. While the Code on Wages, 2019 has been passed by Parliament, Bills on the other three areas were referred to the Standing Committee on Labour. The Standing Committee has submitted its report on all three Bills. The government has replaced these Bills with new ones on September 19, 2020.
The Code applies on factories having 20 or more workers and manufacturing process is being carried on with the aid of power or 40 or more workers where manufacturing process is being carried on without the aid of power.
The Code emphasizes on health, safety and welfare of the workers employed in various sectors like industry, trade, business, manufacturing, factory, motor transport undertaking, building and other construction work, newspaper establishments, audio-video production, plantation, mine and dock-work and service sectors.
The Code doesn’t applies to the offices of Central Government, State Government and any ship of war or any nationality but at the same time it applies to contract labour employed through contractor in the offices where Central Government or State Government are principal employer.
The Code sets up occupational safety boards at the national and state level to advise the central and state governments on the standards, rules, and regulations to be framed under the Code.
The Code creates special provisions for certain classes of establishments such as factories, mines, dock workers, and constructions workers. These include separate provisions on licenses, safety regulations, and duties of employers.
The Code consists of schedules which includes list of industries involved in hazardous process, list of matters where standards are to be followed with respect to health and safety of workers, and list of notifiable diseases for which communication shall be made to concerned authorities.
The code aims at lessening the burden of the employers as it would replace multiple registrations under various enactments to one common registration, one licence and one return which will ultimately create a consolidated database centrally and will be helpful under ease of doing business.
The workplace should be kept free from hazards that cause or likely to cause injury or occupational disease to the employees.
Employers are required to conduct free annual health check-up for their employees.
Employers are required to ensure the disposal of hazardous and toxic waste including e-waste.
Issuance of appointment letter to every employee on their appointment in the establishment.
Workers / Employees are entitled to receive overtime amount at the rate of twice the wage.
Employers or Contractors are responsible to provide welfare facilities to inter-state migrant workers.
Employers are required to provide facilities such as ventilation, humidification, potable drinking water, adequate lighting, creche, washing facilities, bathing places, locker rooms etc.
The Code makes mandatory provisions for the employers to provide a safe working environment and trying to cover the risk of unfortunate incidents arising in the course of employment.
The Code bars civil courts from hearing matters under the Code. The only judicial recourse for a person aggrieved is to file a writ petition before the relevant High Court.
Central Government shall constitute a National Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board to discharge the functions conferred on it by or under this Code and to advise to the Central Government on the matters relating to standards, rules and regulation to be framed under this Code.
The State Government shall constitute a Board to be called the State Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board to advise the State Government on such matters arising out of the administration of this Code as may be referred to it by the State Government.
The appropriate government may require constitution of safety committees in certain establishments, and for a certain class of workers. The committees will comprise of representatives of the employer and the workers. However, the number of employer representatives cannot exceed the employee representatives. These committees will function as a liaison between employers and employees.
The licence issued by the appropriate authority for inter-state migrant workers shall be made electronically containing all the particulars like the number of contract labour, nature of work for which contract labour is to be employed, responsibilities of contractor and such other particulars including the information relating to the employment of inter-State migrant workers.
The contractor shall apply for amendment of licence along with security deposit in case if there is increase in number of the contract labour.
Inter-state migrant work shall be provided with the facilities which are available to worker of that establishment including benefits under the Employees' State Insurance Act, 1948 or the Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 or any other law for the time being in force and the facility of medical check-up as available to a worker.
It shall be the complete responsibility of the employer to pay yearly journey allowances to every inter-state migrant worker a lump-sum amount of fare for to and fro journey to his native place from the place of his employment, in the manner taking into account the minimum service for entitlement, periodicity and class of travel.
Employer in plantation to make provisions for necessary housing accommodation including drinking water, kitchen and toilet, health and recreational facilities, to every worker employed in the plantation (including his family), crèches facilities for plantations having more than 50 workers (including workers employed by any contractor), educational facilities for children of workers between six to twelve years of age.