From minimum wages for all to social security for gig workers ⁠— these are the broad outlines of upcoming ‘labour reforms’ in India

IANS

  • This includes universalization of minimum wages, implementing national floor wage to eliminate the regional disparity in wages, annual health checkup for employees and more.
  • Social security schemes will now be extended to even gig and platform workers.
  • She shared these proposals along with the second tranche.
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In her second tranche of announcements detailing the ₹20 lakh crore stimulus package, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman laid out key processes that are work-in-progress for the welfare of workers such as universalization of minimum wages, implementing national floor wage to eliminate the regional disparity in wages, annual health checkup for employees and more.

Universalisation of minimum wages

The Indian government will be implementing universalisation of minimum wages and timely payments to all the workers in both organised and unorganised sectors — which presently covers less than a third of the total workforce in India.
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“We are committed to making it better for the workers and their welfare is our top priority. We want to give the right to minimum wages universally to all workers. We are also trying to get over the prevailing regional disparity by saying if there can be a national floor wage concept which can be accepted by all the states,” the finance minister said.

Appointment letters, annual health checkups

Sitharaman also said that appointment letters will be extended to all the workers who’ll be taken in, adding that this will promote formalisation of work in the country. Moreover, all the employees will have to undergo the mandatory annual health checkup, going forward.
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ESIC coverage for all employees

“We are extending ESIC coverage to all the districts. This will cover all the establishments having more than 10 employees,” she said. This includes the employees working in small business units who are indulged in hazardous activities.

Meanwhile, for all the businesses having less than 10 employees, the government will make sure that ESIC can be extended to them on a voluntary basis. “We are looking to make it mandatory to have ESIC coverage through notification by the central government,” Sitharaman said.
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Employees' State Insurance is a social security scheme for the workforce in India. According to the payroll data, 11.56 lakh new members joined the ESIC scheme in February alone.

Social security to gig workers and reskilling of retrenched employees


Social security schemes will now be extended to even gig and platform workers. “It is now an urban phenomenon, and they should get that coverage.” In addition to this, the government is also looking to reskill the retrenched employees,those who were laid off due to the COVID-19 crisis, so as to get them back at work.

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Women working rights

The Finance Minister said that all the occupations shall be open for women, along with extending night working rights to them and at the same time safeguarding them.

The employees will also be able to enjoy the social security benefits and gratuity on completion of one year of work, against five years currently.

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Reforms in the labour laws

As many as 44 labour laws have been compressed into four codes, which await the approval of the Parliament and the Standing Committees. "The Ministry of Labour has engaged with all strata of workers, stakeholders to make sure that their concerns are addressed. Our commitment lies in having them passed," she added.
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