Monday, 18 May 2015

Labour Legislation

This is another important area which has a great impact on the industrial relations system. Labour legislation has been instrumental in shaping the course of industrial relations in India. Establishment of social justice has been the principle which has guided the origin and development of labour legislation in India. The setting up of the International Labour Organisation gave an impetus to the consideration of welfare and working conditions of the workers all over the world and also led to the growth of labour laws in all parts of the world, including India. Some of the other factors which gave impetus to the development of labour laws in India were the Swaraj Movement of 1921-24 and the appointment of the Royal Commission on Labour in 1929.

History of Labour Legislation in India:
 Labour legislation in India has a history of over 125 years. Beginning with the Apprentice Act, passed in 1850, to enable children brought up in orphanages to find employment when they come of age, several labour laws covering all aspects of industrial employment have been passed.

 The labour laws regulate not only the conditions of work of industrial establishments, but also industrial relations, payment of wages, registration of trade unions, certification of standing orders, etc. In addition, they provide social security measures for workers. They define legal rights and obligations of employees and employers and also provide guidelines for their relationship.

 In India, all laws emanate from the Constitution of India. Under the Constitution, labour is a concurrent subject, i.e., both the Central and State governments can enact labour legislation, with the clause that the State legislature cannot enact a law which is repugnant to the Central law. A rough estimate places the total number of enactments in India to be around 160.

The Apprentice Act of 1850 was followed by the Factories Act of 1881 and the first State act was the Bombay Trade Disputes (and Conciliation) Act, 1934, followed by the Bombay Industrial Disputes Act, 1938, which was amended during the war years. This was replaced by the BIR Act, 1946.

 The Central Government at this time introduced the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946. In 1947, the government replaced the Trade Disputes Act with the Industrial Disputes Act, which was later modified. This law is the main instrument for government intervention in industrial disputes.

 After Independence, many laws concerning social security and regulation of labour employment were enacted, such as the ESI Act, 1948, EPF and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. Etc.

Objectives: Labour Legislation in India are to
i. Protect workers from exploitation
 ii. Strengthen industrial relations;
 iii. Provide machinery for settling industrial disputes and welfare of workers.

Types of Labour Legislation in India:
 Under three broad categories, as formulated by Banerjee:
1) Protective and employment legislation
 2) Social security legislation
3) Regulatory legislation'

1. Protective and Employment Legislation: The following acts can be grouped under this category: Factories Act, Payment of Wages Act, Minimum Wages Act, Equal Remuneration Act, Payment of Bonus Act, Apprentice Act and Employment Exchange (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act. Some of these are concerned with the health and safety of the worker at his workplace. Others protect the worker by ensuring that he gets paid for the work done at the end of each month.

2. Social Security Legislation: This category includes acts such as the Employees‟ State Insurance Act, 1948, Employees‟ Provident Fund Act, 1952 and the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1952. These social security measures are meant to protect workers against risks of undue hardship and privation. The ESI Act, for example, provides medical care, accident compensation and compensation to a worker when he is unemployed or ill. The Provident Fund and Gratuity Schemes are meant to provide to the worker with some income after his retirement.

3. Regulatory Legislation: The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 and the Trade Unions Act, 1926, etc. come under this category.

 The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, basically provides for the investigation and settlement of industrial disputes. Its main objective is to provide for a just settlement of disputes by negotiations, conciliation, mediation, voluntary arbitration and compulsory adjudication. The Act places constraints on strikes and lockouts. It provides for a works committee at the plant level to ensure that management and worker contribute to the efficient day to day working of the enterprise.

 The Industrial Employment (Standing Order) Act, 1946, requires management to specify the terms and conditions of employment and communicate these to the workers. The Trade Union Act, 1926, is the enabling legislation for the formation of trade unions.