As a prelude to the keenly-awaited industry-friendly reforms in the labour market, the Narendra Modi government is taking steps to buttress workers’ rights and privileges. The Cabinet, which approved the Bill on Wage Code to extend the benefit of obligatory minimum wages to all workers last week, on Wednesday gave its nod for the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions 2019 (OSH Code) that seeks to amalgamate 13 Acts relating to safety, health, working conditions and welfare provisions for employees, inclu-ding mandatory minimum thresholds of leave and hours of work. It would enhance the coverage workers under the Acts manifold, by making their provisions applicable “to all establishments employing 10 or mo-re workers, where any industry, trade, business, manufacture or occupation is carried on, including IT establishments or establishments of service sector.”
The Cabinet also approved Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill with an aim to tackle the menace of illicit deposit-taking activities.
The Bill will replace the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Ordinance, 2019.
As per the OSH Code, every unit employing 10 or more employees shall have to register such establishment. Every employer will have to ensure that the workplace is free from hazards that cause or are likely to cause injury or occupational disease to the employees, and shall comply with the Occupational Safety and Health standards made under this Code and of the regulations, rules, bye-laws and orders made thereunder. Every employer shall ensure the periodical medical examination and prescribed tests of the employees in the manner prescribed. They also need to provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of the employees.
Every employee shall have the right to obtain from the employer information relating to safety and health at work and represent to the employer directly or through a member of the Safety Committee, if constituted by the employer for such purpose, regarding inadequate provision for protection of his safety or health in connection with the work activity in the workplace, and if not satisfied, to the facilitator.
The central government shall, by notification, constitute the National Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board to advise it on the matters relating to standards, rules and regulations to be framed under the Code.
Talking to reporters after the Cabinet meeting, information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar said the illicit deposit-taking schemes are currently being run, exploiting regulatory gaps and lack of strict administrative measures, to dupe poor and gullible people of their hard earned money. The proposed legislation will have adequate provisions for punishment and disgorgement/repayment of deposits in cases where such schemes nonetheless manage to raise deposits illegally, he added.
The banning of the Unregulated Deposit Scheme Bill, 2018 was considered by the Lok Sabha in February and after discussion, the same was passed. However, before the same could be considered and passed in the Rajya Sabha, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die on the same day.