Govt to push for passage of workers' safety code in Budget session: Gangwar

The government will push Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (OSH) Code in the Budget session of Parliament for approval, said Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar on Wednesday.

The Code was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 23, 2019. It is expected to enhance the coverage of workers manifold and also merge 13 central labour laws into a single code which would apply to all establishments employing 10 or more workers.

It will subsume 13 labour laws relating to safety, health and working conditions. These include the Factories Act, 1948, the Mines Act, 1952, and the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970.

"We will definitely bring the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions (OSH) Code, 2019, in the Budget Session. The parliamentary standing committee has sought public comments on the Code," the minister told reporter on the sidelines of an event of Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC).

The Budget session of Parliament is most likely to be scheduled in the last week of January.

In labour reforms, the government has already received Parliament approval for Code on Wages. The OSH Code will be the second in line for the nod. The government intends to concise 44 labour laws into four broad codes on wages, OSH, social security and industrial relations.

The minister also said the Prime Minister was apprised and briefed about the third code (Code on Social Security) and the government wants all four codes to become a reality as soon as possible.

When asked about the status of other two codes on social security and industrial relations he said, "There is tripartite process to firm up draft laws on labour issues. We don't want to do anything in haste. The discussions are on. We want to bring those to Parliament at the earliest".

The Code on OSH proposes one registration for an establishment instead of multiple registrations. Presently, six labour acts out of 13 provide for separate registration of the establishment. This will create a centralised database and promote ease of doing business. At present, separate registration is required to be obtained under the six Acts.

It also provides for a free of cost annual health checks-up for employees above prescribed age for prescribed tests and for prescribed establishments.

It also provides for a statutory provision to issue appointment letter to every employee with the minimum information prescribed by the appropriate government. The provision of appointment letter will result in formalisation of employment and prevent the exploitation of the worker.

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