Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting the Union Budget 2021-22 in Parliament on Monday, said the four Labour Codes would be implemented, signalling the Centre’ resolve to go ahead with the labour law reforms.
Also, the government expressed intention to take measures for the welfare of migrant workers and labourers whose vulnerabilities were exposed by the disaster unleashed by Covid-19 pandemic and the related lockdown.
Although Sitharaman did not spell out the time-line for its implementation, sources said the Labour Code would become operational during the current Budget Session. The rules under the Labour Codes have almost been finalized, they said.
“We will conclude a process that began 20 years ago, with implementation of the four Labour Codes,” Sitharaman said, adding that for the first time social security benefits will be extend to gig and platform workers.
She said that minimum wages would apply to all categories of workers, and they will all be covered by the Employees State Insurance Corporation. Women will be allowed to work in all categories and also in the night shifts with adequate protection, said the Finance Minister.
At the same time, compliance burden on employers will be reduced with single registration and licensing and online returns, she added.
The Labour Codes in their present form have been opposed by a section of opposition parties and the Central Trade Unions.
Sitharaman also proposed to launch a portal that will collect relevant information on gig, building, and construction workers, among others to help formulate health, housing, skill, insurance, credit, and food scheme for migrant workers.
The “One Nation One Ration Card” scheme, which is aimed for the welfare of migrant workers, will be implemented in the remaining four states and UTs, she said. The scheme is under implementation in 32 states and UTS, reaching to about 69 crore beneficiaries – a total of 86 per cent beneficiaries covered, the minister informed.
Sitharaman further announced to ensure that employers abide by their obligation to deposit their contributions towards the provident fund, superannuation fund and other social security funds in time. She noted that some employers do delay deposits even after collecting from employees their contributions.
Henceforth, late deposit of employee’s contribution by the employer will not be allowed as deduction to him (employer), she said.
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