Labour minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar, on Monday, informed the Lok Sabha that the Centre has not agreed to proposals by various state governments on increasing the work hours under the Factories Act, 1948. The Act, inter-alia, provides for working hours of the workers employed in a factory registered under the Act.
“During an existing pandemic, the ministry of labour & employment has received the draft ordinances/bills from different state governments through the ministry of home affairs regarding amendment in the existing provisions including extension of working hours under the Factories Act, 1948,” he said. “This ministry has not agreed to proposals for extending working hours,” minister Gangwar said.
The ministry, on its part, has however allowed firms to raise spread over hours to 12 in a day but with weekly hours capped at 48. The proposals, as part of the four labour codes, have been approved by the Parliaments and the Rules for the Codes will be notified soon.
In a separate response, the minister further said that a joint representation dated February 26, 2021 from a few trade unions on the issues to be considered in the 228th CBT meeting was received in which the issue related to investment policy and investment of funds in the stock market were raised.
“As a precaution to mitigate the volatility related to the equity market, the central board of trustees of EPFO had in its 207th meeting held on March 31, 2015 decided to invest only in exchange traded funds (ETF) in this category,” minister Gangwar said.
The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) invests its corpus as per the pattern of investment notified by the central government and the internal guidelines of EPFO approved by the central board of trustees’ (CBT) of EPFO.
As per the response, the incremental deposit and fresh accretion for equity investment stand at Rs 19796.24 crore in 2017-18, Rs 27743.19 crore in 2018-19, Rs 32377.26 crore in 2019-20 and Rs 27532.39 crore in the current fiscal till February 28, 2021.
At present, EPFO invests 15% of the incremental deposits/fresh accretion in exchange traded funds indexed with indices of NIFTY-50, SENSEX, CPSE and BHARAT-22.
The minister, further, informed the House the number of claims settled by Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) during the lockdown period, March 25, 2020 to May 31, 2020 were 31,01,818 while the number of Covid-19 claims settled by EPFO under PMGKY (Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana) during this period stood at 82,684.
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