The next big reform that, according to the government, would infuse more vigour to the Indian economy is labour reform, the heart of which lies in the four labour codes that has been crystallised from as many as 29 central labour laws. While this act of amalgamation, rationalisation and simplification into four labour codes were accomplished in 2019 and 2020, the states are drafting their rules and only a few states are yet to complete it, Union labour and employment minister Bhupender Yadav told The Economic Times while expressing the hope that they would be implemented soon.
Incidentally, the four codes prepared for the entire country are Code on Wages, 2019; Industrial Relations Code, 2020; Code on Social Security, 2020 and that on Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions, 2020. Since labour in on the concurrent list, the individual states are now drafting rules on all the four codes.
One of the primary objectives of any labour legislation would be to give a boost to employment generation and the current exercise is no exception, said the minister. “Creating meaningful employment opportunities is top priority for the government, which has been working on both employment generation and improving employability. Investments in infrastructure and productive capacity have a large multiplier impact on growth and employment,” said Yadav.
He also pointed out that there was a proposal to raise capital investment for the third successive year in the budget of FY24. The rate of increase would be about 33% and would reach a figure of Rs 10 lakh crore. This would amount to 3.3 of the country’s GDP. “This substantial increase in recent years is central to their participation in the government’s efforts to enhance growth potential and job creation,” said the minister.
He reiterated that the Centre is working to realise the target of making India an “inclusive, strong and reliable” economic powerhouse.
While preparing the labour codes, one of the central objectives of the Union government has been to raise the participation of women in the labour force.
“The government is committed to providing a conducive environment for women to enhance their participation in the labour force. One of the biggest steps in that direction is the passage of the women’s reservation bill in Parliament. As per the Periodic Labour Force Survey, the female labour force participation rate has gone up by 13.7% in the last 15 years due to various factors, including steps being taken by the government to boost employment and women’s empowerment through various laws, policies and schemes,” said the minister.
Explaining why the government launched the labour surveys, the minister said that these would help the administration in formulating welfare measures.
“To distribute any welfare measure or to formulate any policy, you must first know who you are making the policy for and how many are likely to be impacted. We are focusing on the welfare of workers through evidence-based policy making and have embarked on an unprecedented data collection drive,” he said.
The surveys to be undertaken on a pan-India basis are: All-India Survey of Migrant Workers (ASMW), All-India Survey on Domestic Workers, All-India Survey on Employment generated in Transport Sector, All-India Survey of Employment Generated by Professionals and All-India Quarterly Establishment based Employment Survey (AQEES). Incidentally, two of the surveys – ASMW and AQEES – have been kicked off already. The other three would be undertaken in phases. “Field works have been completed and draft reports are in the final stage for the two surveys,” said the minister.
However, Yadav indicated that despite the increasing layoffs in the tech sector, there is not much that the government can do to address this “regular phenomenon” in industrial establishments.
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