The government is working to implement newly codified labour laws, but how will they fare in a transformed working environment? Ragini Rastogi reports

With the new labour codes having received presidential assent, 29 labour laws will now be amalgamated into four codes. These laws pertain to wages, industrial disputes, terms and conditions at work, leave, working hours, occupational safety and welfare measures, social security benefits, inspection rights of authorities, and penalties for non-compliance. The rule-making process is in full swing and the intention of the government is to implement these codes by April 2021.

With covid-19 and its fallout, there has been a tectonic shift in the way we work, and issues that had long been overlooked have now come to the fore. For instance, the lockdown resulted in migrant labourers heading back to their hometowns, and this led to a huge loss for the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector. Further, the absence of social security benefits to migrant workers was highlighted, and the need to address this was felt.

There will now be a database maintained on migrant workers, which will facilitate a better reach of government schemes. Additionally, the labour codes will combine and reduce the number of registrations required, and avoid duplication of returns, as is the case in separate legislations.

For employers, these codes will create: More responsibilities in terms of social security benefits to gig workers, platform workers and home-based workers; recognition of employment status to fixed-term employees; increased thresholds for government approval in case of retrenchment, closure and lock-out; facilitation of electronic inspections; constitution of negotiating unions; and enabling provisions for exemption to new establishments.

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Ragini Rastogi is a compliance and employment law specialist based in Gurugram. The views expressed in the article are personal.