Fixed-term employment, which the govt had allowed for all sectors last year, has now been codified.
The Union cabinet on Wednesday approved the Labour Code on Industrial Relations 2019, allowing companies to hire workers on fixed-term contract of any duration. The code has retained the threshold on the worker count at 100 for prior government approval before retrenchment, but it has a provision for changing ‘such number of employees’ through notification. Fixed-term employment means a worker can be hired for any duration, three months or six months or a year depending on season and orders.
The bill is expected to be tabled in the ongoing winter session of the Parliament. “While this means workers can be hired seasonally for six months or a year it also means that all workers will be treated at par with regular workers for benefits,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said after the cabinet meeting. Labour minister Santosh Gangwar has spent lot of time in consultation with all stakeholders including trade unions, Sitharaman said. The code also provides setting up of a two-member tribunal (in place of one member) wherein important cases will be adjudicated jointly and the rest by a single member, resulting speedier disposal of cases
Besides, it has vested powers with the government officers for adjudication of disputes involving penalty as fines, thereby lessening the burden on tribunal. The industrial relations code is the third out of four labour codes that have got approval from the cabinet. The code will combine Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Trade Unions Act, 1926, and the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946. The Labour Code on Wages has already been approved by Parliament in August while the Labour Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions has been referred to the standing committee of labour.
The government has already allowed fixed-term employment across all sectors last year. It has now been codified, which means that once approved by Parliament it will become a legislation to be abided by all. The labour ministry has decided to amalgamate 44 labour laws into four codes – on wages, industrial relations, social security, and safety, health and working conditions.
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