Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Code on Wages Bill, 2019, which amends and consolidates laws relating to wages/bonus and universalises the provisions of minimum wages and timely payment of wages to all employees irrespective of the sector and wage ceiling.
At present, the provisions of both Minimum Wages Act and Payment of Wages Act apply to workers below a particular wage ceiling working in Scheduled Employments only. “This Bill would ensure Right to Sustenance for every worker and intends to increase the legislative protection of minimum wage from existing about 40% to 100% workforce,” said Minister of State for Labour and Employment (Independent Charge) Santosh Kumar Gangwar in the Lower House.
He added that this will be a historical step for ensuring statutory protection for minimum wage and timely payment of wage to 50 crore workers in the country.
“If workers, especially those in the unorganised sector, don’t get their salary on time their families go into despair. This Bill provides for monthly wage holders to get their salary on time and all sections of society which were outside the ambit of the minimum wages will now get the right to minimum wages,” the Minister said.
DMK MP D. Ravikumar speaking on the Bill said there is a fear that labour rights won over the years would be reduced by the Code on Wages’ clauses on minimum wages. He added that minimum wages for farm labour should be revised every two years. while for other workers they need to be revised every four years.
MP Prof. Saugata Roy (AITC) stating that the condition of workers is very bad, said that after the passage of the Bill, workers will have bargaining power only as long as the management makes a profit. “There are no unions for the IT and call centre industries where workers are losing basic rights,” he added.
A release issued by the Ministry noted that the Code on Wages Bill, 2019, subsumes relevant provisions of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. After the enactment of the Bill, all these four Acts will get repealed.
The Code on Wages Bill was earlier introduced in Lok Sabha on August 10, 2017, and was referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee which submitted its report on December 18, 2018. However, owing to dissolution of 16th Lok Sabha, the Bill lapsed. Therefore, a fresh bill — The Code on Wages Bill, 2019, – was drafted inter alia, after considering the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee and other suggestions of the stakeholders.