NEW DELHI: Having run into stiff opposition from trade unions over a dozen proposed labour law reforms, the labour ministry is now taking the executive route to make key changes to existing legislation.
Some of these could be in place before the end of the fiscal year, a senior government official told ET. These include enabling women to work night shifts, rationalisation of wages for contract workers, exempting low-wage workers from contributing to provident fund and introducing fixed-term employment to enable flexibility on hiring.
“This government is adamant over creating a conducive environment for business in a way that it benefits both employers and the employee,” said the official, who didn’t want to be named. “Since trade unions are virtually blocking most of the proposed amendments, we now plan to change some of the key provisions through executive orders.”
The government has been taking the executive route to advance its reform agenda after running into opposition in the Rajya Sabha, where it doesn’t have a majority.
The government says policy changes are needed in order to boost ease of doing business to woo investment, generate more jobs and bolster growth. Since the Narendra Modi government took over in May 2014, the labour ministry has proposed various labour law amendments as part of the effort to improve India’s ease of doing business ranking.
However, it has found the going difficult because of opposition from trade unions despite trying to make the changes more palatable. The ministry plans to issue executive orders by March 31 directing states under Section 113 of the Factories Act to enable women to work night shifts. The trade unions oppose this because of concerns over women’s safety at night.
Similarly, the labour ministry plans to bring about changes to Rule 25 of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Central Rules by March end to ensure contract workers get either the minimum wage or one mutually agreed wage between employee and employer, whichever is higher. This won’t be lower than Rs 10,000 per month.
The ministry also plans to issue orders in the next few months to give a waiver on provident fund payments to employees with a monthly income that’s less than Rs 10,000 so as to increase their take home pay.
None of the proposed rule changes require parliamentary approval.