Since everyone is talking about change today, let’s examine some amendments that can be brought in our laws to speed up India’s development.
First and foremost, the basic problem of our country is the pathetic condition of those living in remote areas and also those in many of our cities. Second, many of those who have jobs have no will to perform or have ulterior motives. Third, there are many who are made to slog for years altogether on contract or temporary basis, but are underpaid. Fourth, the stringent labour laws which many a time disinterest investors to invest.
Certain amendments in laws can make a positive impact, such as fixing rates of minimum wages as per capacity of organisations. For this, categorisation of industries needs to be done based on various factors. Provisions regarding timings, leaves, holidays etc. also need to be reviewed and implemented. At present, contract labourers and temporary workers who are paid minimum wages are forced to work much beyond the statutory hours, whereas a regular employee having a set pay scale is required to work for limited hours, and also gets far more leaves and holidays. Though there is a provision for equal benefits for equal work, the same is seldom implemented.
Further, the law of retrenchment needs to be reviewed. Provisions for companies to close down need to be made simpler. At present, when there are more than 100 workers, permission from government needs to be taken before closing. In Uttar Pradesh, the same number is 300. This could be done for other states too, as it will encourage opening bigger factories.
One of the basic causes for India’s backwardness is non-performance of respective duties. Delegation of power coupled with responsibility needs to be there. Regular appraisal of all categories of employees needs to be carried out. Corrective measures should be taken against those who do not perform. Memos, warnings, showcause notices be issued wherever required. Currently, according to Indian labour laws, a full-fledged inquiry is required before taking a punitive action against certain categories of employees committing misconduct. This takes a lot of time, effort and cost. Such procedures also need to be simplified. Further, those declared “protected workman” cannot be terminated without permission from authority, which is rarely given. This gives protection to erratic union leaders many a time. Further, in case there is pendency of a dispute before a labour court/industrial tribunal, permission/approval needs to be taken for dismissal. All these provisions were made long ago, so with the changing economy even these provisions need to be simplified.
Apart from the above, legislations such as the Factories Act, Building and other Construction Workers Act, etc., which require too many compliances many of them meaningless, also need to be simplified.
Too many compliances allow inspector raj to create inconsequential issues for reasons known to all. Stress should be more on compliance of statutory benefits for the workers as well as flexibility for the employers. The system of preparing quarterly report of compliances by labour officials in respective areas should be introduced. These reports should most importantly include ensuring payment of statutory benefits to workers. Provisions should be made for payment of wages and other benefits, dues etc. through account transfer rather than cash.
Another aspect which needs to be looked into is the appointment procedure. To achieve good work and progress, competent people need to be appointed rather than backdoor entries who are a major cause of inefficiency.
If we can simplify provisions for the employers and ensure compliances of statutory benefits towards workers, then these too will aid in bringing achche din.