Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

Centre gets responses to draft Social Security Code


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Social Security Code

Mains level : Salient features of the draft Social Security Code

  • The draft code on social security, which subsumes eight existing laws covering provident fund, maternity benefits and pension, is being further worked upon after a recent round of public consultations.

Draft Social Security Code

Here are the five key things in the draft code:

1) Insurance, PF, life cover for unorganized sector employees:

  • Bulk of India’s labour force is in informal sector and a move looks forward looking but most of key initiatives it suggest may be the decision of the states with little contribution from the centre.
  • There may be unorganized sector social security boards at the centre and state levels.
  • The draft code says the “Central Government shall formulate and notify, from time to time, suitable welfare schemes for unorganised workers on matter relating to life and disability cover; health and maternity benefits; old age protection; and any other benefit as may be determined by the central government”.
  • While framing of schemes, the draft says the states may also formulate and notify suitable initiatives for unorganized workers, including schemes relating to provident fund, employment injury benefit, housing, educational scheme for their children, old age and funeral assistance.

2) Corporatization of EPFO and ESIC:

  • The pension, insurance and retirement saving bodies including EPFO and ESIC will be body corporate.
  • The world body corporate has been added in the draft and may bring in a departure from the current autonomous body status of such organization.
  • The draft also talks about appointment of chief executive officers (CEOs) in these organization indicating that the labour minister, labour secretary, the central PF commissioner and Director General of ESIC may not be by default the head of such organizations.
  • It means the EPFO may become a more structured national body with its entire Rs. 11 trillion corpus under the responsibility of a central government-appointed chairman.
  • Currently EPFO is headed by the labour minister chaired central board of trustees.
  • The Central Government shall also appoint a Financial Advisor and Chief Accounts Officer to assist the Chief Executive Officer in the discharge of his duties draft code said.

3) Benefits for Gig workers:

  • Millions of gig workforce in India, often referred as lonely in the workplace, may soon get life and disability insurance, health and maternity benefits among others as the union government is formulating a labour code that propose such provisions.
  • As per the draft social security code, the Central Government may formulate and notify suitable social security schemes for gig workers and platform workers” and such schemes would encompass issues like “life and disability cover”, “health and maternity benefits, old age protection” and “any other benefit as may be determined by the Central Government”.
  • Though the exact number of gig workers are unknown as they are still figuring out whether they are formal workers or informal workers or independent entrepreneurs, a 2017 study by consulting firm EY has said that nearly one out four gig workers in the world are from India.

4) Maternity Benefit:

  • The draft says subject to the other provisions of this Code, every woman shall be entitled to, and her employer shall be liable for, the payment of maternity benefit at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of her actual absence.
  • That is to say, the period immediately proceeds the day of her delivery, and any period immediately following that day.
  • For the purposes of this sub-section, ―the average daily wage means the average of the woman’s wages payable to her for the days on which she has worked during the period of three calendar months immediately preceding the date from which she absents herself on account of maternity.
  • This will be subject to the minimum rate of wage fixed or revised under the Code on Wages, 2019.

5) Existing labour laws that the code will merge:

The Code on Social Security, 2019 once in place will merge eight exiting labour laws including Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923; Employees‘ State Insurance Act, 1948, Employees‘ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952; Maternity Benefit Act, 1961; Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972; Cine Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981; Building and Other Construction Workers Cess Act, 1996 and Unorganized Workers‘ Social Security Act, 2008.

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