Pursuant to the recommendations of Second National Commission on Labour, the Ministry of Labour and Employment had introduced the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 (‘OSHW’) Code in the Lok Sabha in order to consolidate and amend the laws regulating the occupational safety, health and working conditions of the persons employed in an establishment.
The OSHW Code was passed by the Lok Sabha on September 22, 2020 and subsequently, by the Rajya Sabha on September 23, 2020. The OSHW Code is yet to receive assent of the President of India.
The OSHW Code shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification appoint and different dates may be appointed for different provisions of the OSHW Code.
The OSHW Code seeks to subsume following labour law legislations:
- The Factories Act, 1948;
- The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970;
- The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979;
- The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996;
- The Mines Act, 1952;
- The Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986;
- The Plantations Labour Act, 1951;
- The Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955;
- The Working Journalists (Fixation of Rates of Wages) Act, 1958;
- The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961;
- The Sales Promotion Employees (Condition of Service) Act, 1976;
- The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966; and
- The Cine Workers and Cinema Theatre Workers Act, 1981
The highlights of the OSHW Code are as follows:
The OSHW Code is applicable to:
- every establishment where any industry, trade, business, manufacturing or occupation is carried on in which ten or more workers are employed; or
- a factory, motor transport undertaking, newspaper establishment, audio-video production, building and other construction work or plantation, in which ten or more workers are employed; or
- a mine or port or vicinity of port where dock work is carried out.
For effective implementation of the OSHW Code, appointment of Inspector-cum-Facilitators has been prescribed.
Additionally, National and State Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Boards will be constituted to advise and assist Government on matters relating to occupational safety and health.
- ONE ESTABLISHMENT - ONE REGISTRATION
In order to reduce multiplicity of registration under Erstwhile Laws, every employer of any establishment, which comes into existence after the commencement of this OSHW Code and to which OSHW Code applies, shall within 60 days from the date of applicability of this OSHW Code, make an application for registration of such establishment.
- DUTIES AND RIGHTS
- Duties of employer inter alia include ensuring that the workplace is free from hazards, comply with occupational safety and health standards, providing annual health examination or tests, issuing a letter SALIENT FEATURES of appointment to every employee, compulsory reporting of diseases and accidents etc.
- Duties of employees inter alia include taking reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and co-operate with the employer in meeting the statutory obligations.
- Designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of any article used in an establishment are duty bound to ensure such article is safe and does not probe any risk to health of workers.
- Architects, project engineer and designers responsible for any construction work or design of project must ensure safety and health aspects of the building workers and employees at the planning stage.
- WORKING CONDITIONS AND WELFARE FACILITIES
- The employer is responsible for maintaining health, safety and working conditions such as hygiene, cleanliness, ventilation, humidification and providing arrangements for treatment of wastes and euents in the establishment.
- Welfare facilities including washing facilities, locker rooms, creche, canteens, sitting arrangements are also to be provided and maintained by an employer in the establishment.
- WORKING HOURS
- The working hours of a worker in an establishment have been fixed at 8 hours in a day except in case of mines wherein the Central Government may notify additional working hours.
- Further, for working journalists the Central Government may prescribe a maximum of 144 hours of work during any period of 4 consecutive weeks and a period of not less than 24 consecutive hours of rest during any period of 7 consecutive days.
- A worker may, with consent, work overtime and in such a case, the employer shall be liable to pay wages at the rate of twice the rate of wages.
- Workers cannot be required to work in an establishment for more than 6 days in a week.
- Every worker who has worked 180 days or more in a calendar year will be entitled to 1 day leave for every 20 days of his work.
- SPECIAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN
Women shall be entitled to be employed in all establishments for all types of work and may also be employed, with their consent to work before 6:00 A.M. and beyond 7:00 P.M. subject to such conditions relating to safety, holidays and working hours.
- SPECIAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO CONTRACT LABOUR
- The provisions relating to contract labour are applicable to (i) every establishment in which 50 or more contract labour are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding 12 months through contract (ii) every manpower supply contractor who has employed on any day of the preceding 12 months 50 or more contract labour.
- The contractor is required to obtain a license prior to (i) suppling or engaging contract labour in any establishment or (b) undertaking or executing the work through contract labour.
- The concept of renewable ‘work specific license’ has also been introduced which essentially, means that the contractors can obtain license for a specific work order also.
- In order to ensure that requisite information is available in relation to a particular work order of an establishment with the appropriate authority, the contractors shall intimate the appropriate authority whenever work order is received from an establishment either to supply contract labour in the establishment or to execute the contract through contract labour in the establishment.
- The principal employer shall be liable to ensure health and working conditions and provide welfare facilities to contract labour in an establishment.
- The contractor will ensure disbursement of wages to contract labour through bank transfer or electronic mode and inform the principal employer electronically about the amount so paid by such mode.
- SPECIAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO FACTORIES
- The appropriate Government has been granted the power to declare any place wherein a manufacturing process is carried on as a ‘factory’ irrespective of the number of workers working in the factory.
- Additionally, a site appraisal committee may be set up by the appropriate Government to consider and to give recommendations on an application for grant of permission for the initial location of a factory involving a hazardous process or for the expansion of such factory
- SPECIAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO INTER-STATE MIGRANT WORKERS
- The OSHW Code shall apply to every establishment in which 10 or more inter-State migrant workers are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding 12 months.
- The OSHW Code widens the ambit of the term inter-state migrant workers to also include 'any person' (earning wages up to an amount to be prescribed by the Central Government) recruited by an employer (whether himself or through a contractor) in one state for employment in his establishment situated in another state.
- The contractor or the employer of an establishment employing inter-State migrant workers shall provide facilities such as suitable conditions of work, benefits under the Employees' State Insurance Act, 1948 or the Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, facility of medical check-up etc.
- The employer shall pay, to every inter-State migrant worker employed in his establishment, in a year a lump sum amount of fare for to and fro journey to his native place from the place of his employment.
- OFFENCES AND PENALTIES
- To act as a deterrent, stringent penalties have been introduced in the OSHW Code. For instance, in case of contravention of any provision of OSHW Code, the employer or principal employer, as the case may be, shall be liable to a penalty of INR 2 lakhs which may be extended upto INR 3 lakhs.
- Additionally, specific penalties for varied offences have also been ascribed under this code.
- SOCIAL SECURITY FUND
For the welfare of unorganized workers, a social security fund will be set up and will be credited with the amount received from composition of certain offences.