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Employers must pay migrant workers to go home once a year, Modi govt’s labour rules propose

Draft rules also mandate health check-ups for employees over 45 years of age, among other things. People have 45 days to give suggestions or raise objections.

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New Delhi: Employers will now have to provide a lump sum amount every year to each inter-state migrant employee, the draft labour rules published by the Union labour ministry Friday state.

The employing establishments will have to pay for these workers to travel to their home state once every 12 months. The journey could be by train (not below Second Class Sleeper) or bus or other modes of transport. The condition for employees to avail this facility is that they should have worked for that particular establishment for at least six months in the preceding one year.

The draft rules also mandate that companies will have to conduct annual health check-ups, free of cost, for every worker above the age of 45 at a factory, dock, mine, or building/other construction site. The rules also provide for a single electronic registration for licencing and filing annual integrated returns for an establishment.

Also read: Workplaces with women on night shift have to provide creche & canteen, draft labour rules say

45 days for public response

The Union Ministry of Labour and Employment has notified the draft rules under the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Act, 2020, seeking objections and suggestions from the public within a period of 45 days.

The law deals with the safety, health and working conditions of those working at docks, building or other construction sites, mines, as well as interstate workers, contract labourers, working journalists, audio-visual workers, and sales promotion employees.

“After going through the objections and suggestions, the ministry will notify the rules to make the law operational,” said a ministry official, who did not want to be named.

Toll-free helpline, women’s safety

The draft rules also mandate that the labour ministry will set up a toll-free helpline number to address queries and grievances of inter-state migrant workers.

This is the first time that provisions related to inter-state migrant workers have been included in the draft rules under the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020.

The move months after the migrant crisis unfolded following the imposition of the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown on 25 March.

Lakhs of migrant workers lost their livelihoods when the factories and businesses they worked in shut down, and in the absence of money, shelter and food, the workers started leaving for their homes in faraway villages, mostly on foot. The government had to intervene after facing flak, and it announced relief packages offering free food grains and transportation facilities for them to reach their home state.

The rules also talk about ensuring safe workplaces for women employees, and mandate that establishments, including factories and construction firms where women have given their consent to work after 7 pm, will have to provide transportation facilities and adequate sanitation near the workplace.

The draft rules also have provisions for contract labourers. They state that a contractor shall fix the wage periods, and no wage period shall exceed one month. The wages of every person employed as a contract labourer in an establishment or by a contractor shall be paid before the end of the seventh day after the last day of the wage period. The wages shall be disbursed through bank transfer or electronic mode only.

Safety committees have been made mandatory for every establishment employing 500 or more workers, to provide an opportunity for the workers to represent their concerns on occupational safety and health matters.

Also read: States follow Modi’s Atmanirbhar vision. Andhra, Gujarat’s new industrial policies show


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