Parl panel seeks more clarity on occupational safety Code provisions for workers' welfare

New Delhi, Feb 11 () A Parliamentary panel on Tuesday said there needs to be more clarity on various provisions of the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019, as well as explicitly bring contract workers under the Code.

The Code -- which would subsume 13 extant labour laws -- was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 23, 2019, and then referred to the committee.

In its report tabled in the Parliament, the Standing Committee on Labour said there should be uniform definitions and clarity in interpretation of the provisions contained in the Code.

Clarity is needed since 13 extant labour laws are being subsumed "to provide basic broad legislative framework with enabling provisions for framing rules, regulations, standards and bye-laws", the report said.

According to the panel, the Code should cover workers in all sectors, including those at central/ state government establishments/ properties.

Among others, all types of plantation workers; working journalists, including those on contracts; audio-visual workers; sales promotion employees; medical representatives; unorganised sector workers, and inter-state migrant workers should be included, it added.

The panel noted that grey areas in interpretation and implementation of the 13 Acts should be addressed in the Code.

There should be a "a clear cut differentiation between core and non-core activities in which contract labourers can be engaged, as has been done in some states like Andhra Pradesh, be considered," it noted.

Further, the report suggested that there should be prudent and unambiguous demarcation of responsibility between the centre and states. This would remove confusion, avoid endless litigations and result in seamless implementation of the intended objectives, it said.

The committee also flagged ambiguity in the definition of 'Appropriative Government' for dealing with different kinds of establishments under the Code.

Since the Centre and states employ a large number of contract workers these days, they should be explicitly covered under the Code, it said.

The Code incorporates essential features of the 13 Acts, including those related to factories, dock workers, building and other construction workers, plantation labour and contract labour.

It also includes Acts pertaining to inter-state migrant workers, working journalists and other newspaper employees, motor transport workers, sales promotion employees, beedi and cigar workers, cine workers and cinema theatre workers.

The labour ministry plans to introduce the Code for consideration and passage in the Budget session of Parliament. The second phase of the session is from March 2. KKS CS RAM
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