January 23, 2022

Discouraging Labor Reforms, Social Security Fund for Informal Workers Awaits Launch

New Delhi: Heralding a major wave of reforms by implementing the Four Labor Codes, establishing the National Social Security Fund to cover more than 38 crore workers in the informal sector and improving the ease of doing business will be at the top of the agenda in the new year. standing of the Ministry of Labor.

In a major step, on August 26, 2021, the Ministry launched the e-Shram portal to create a national database of more than 38 crore workers in the informal sector. It will help the government to ensure that benefits from various social security systems are provided to workers in the informal sector at the last minute.

So far, progress in pushing through the labor codes has been significant as most states have finalized draft rules for the four codes and the Center had tightened the rules from the end, in February 2021. a condition for the enforcement of the new codes.

On the enforcement of the codes by 2022, which would eventually contribute to the establishment of the Social Security Fund for the workers in the informal sector, Union Labor Minister Bhupender Yadav told PTI: “We are working on that. us in for Social Security. are committed to the welfare of labor. For that purpose, whatever will (required), we want to do.”

More than 17 crore workers in the informal sector have registered on the e-Shram portal.

The national government has registered four labor codes. The Wages Act, 2019, was published on August 8, 2019, while the three others — the Labor Relations Act, 2020, the Social Security Act, 2020, and the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Act, 2020 — were notified on 29. Sept 2020.

The Social Security Code provides for the creation of a social security fund that will help bring workers in the informal sector under the social security network and social security schemes.

Expressing the hope that all workers in the informal sector will be registered on the e-Shram portal by 2022, Yadav said: “We have taken many initiatives that show that our government cares for poor people, especially the e-Shram- portal launched by our ministry under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which received a huge response.

“The aim is to register the data of the unorganized workers and that is the mandate under the Social Security Code. I am also pleased that all unions have wholeheartedly supported this mission.”

On the progress in implementing the labor codes, Yadav told the Rajya Sabha earlier this month that the Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code is the only code with the fewest number of 13 states to have pre-published draft rules.

The highest number of draft notices were pre-published on the wage code by 24 states/UTs, followed by the Labor Relations Act (20 states) and the Social Security Act (18).

Experts believe that implementing labor codes will not be as easy as it seems, as there are differences with both unions and industry.

One of the key issues concerns the definition of wages, which limits benefits to 50 percent and provides for higher deductions for provision funds and tips. Once implemented, such a move will ultimately mean that workers’ carry-over pay will fall and employers will also be required to restructure the pay structure.

In addition, there is a provision in the Labor Relations Code that any unit with up to 300 employees does not require authorization from the appropriate government for closures, cutbacks and layoffs. At the moment the threshold is 100 employees.

In addition, the unions also claim that there are other provisions that make union formation a bit cumbersome. “We are also willing to talk about issues in tripartite (settlement). So many forums are already active,” Yadav said.

According to the minister, the meetings of the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) and the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) have been regularized.

“In view of human resource management, infrastructure, IT, capacity building and public complaints, we have already established subcommittees under EPFO ​​and ESIC. It will boost the functioning of the ministry,” he emphasized.

With regard to evidence-based policy making in 2022, the minister mentioned four surveys on migrant workers, domestic workers and two institutional surveys.

“These reports will be published (in 2022) and will certainly give substance to the vision and mission of the Prime Minister, which is evidence-based policy and targeted last mile delivery. I think that will happen with that. We are also strengthening our NCS (National Career Service) portal,” he said.

On December 28, 2021, the NCS platform has 1.34 crore active job seekers with about 1.7 lakh active employers and about 2.21 lakh active job vacancies.

In 2021, the ESI scheme will be extended to 52 districts, covering 2,31,495 employees and their families. The scheme is now available in 592 districts and it is proposed to extend the scheme’s coverage to all districts of the country by 2022.

Under the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana (ABRY), a total of Rs 2,966.28 crore has been awarded to 42,82,688 beneficiaries through 1,20,697 institutions on December 18.

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