Eyeing labour reforms, Cabinet approval for wage code bill likely next week

Looking to bring in a fresh wave of labour reforms, the Labour Ministry is likely to seek Cabinet approval for the Code on Wages Bill next week as it pushes for its passage in the ongoing Parliament session, a source said.

The bill lapsed after the 16th Lok Sabha dissolved last month. Now the ministry would have to seek the Union Cabinet's approval for introducing it in either House of Parliament.

"Cabinet can approve the wage code bill next month. The Labour Ministry wants to push the draft law for passage in the current Parliament session," the source said.

The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 10, 2017. It was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on August 21, 2017. The panel had submitted its report on December 18, 2018.

The wage code bill is one of four codes envisaged by the government which would subsume 44 labour laws with certain amendments to improve the ease of doing business and attract investment for spurring growth.

The four codes will deal with wages, social security, industrial safety and welfare, and industrial relations.

The Code on Wages will replace the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, Minimum Wages Act, 1948, Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

The bill provides that the central government will fix minimum wages for certain sectors, including railways and mines, while the states would be free to set minimum wages for other category of employments.

The code also provides for setting of a national minimum wage. The central government can set separate minimum wages for different regions or states.

The draft law also says that the minimum wages would be revised every five years.

Earlier this month, following an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah, Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar had said his ministry would push for the passage of the bill in the current session of Parliament.

The meeting was also attended by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Commerce and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.


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