India has a strong labor force and labor and manpower have always been one of our country’s strengths. Laborers however went through various exploitation by their employers in the name of the job and were not paid proper wages for it for which labor laws were enacted by the government to protect the poor employees. Labour laws are there to protect the workers from being exploited by their employers in the name of employment. There are several labor laws in this country but it is not enough for the welfare of the employees and there are several reasons for it and one of them is the lack of proper implementation. In this article, the author has stated the reasons why such labor laws cannot be implemented in this country after briefing about the importance and objectives of labor laws.
Labour laws were introduced mainly in the pre-independence era for the welfare of British employees. India after gaining independence, the legislature recognized the importance of labor laws and implemented various legislations for different purposes, and with this globalization and liberalization, with many companies coming here to employ our citizens, the need for labor law is of greatest significance now. Labour laws are for the social welfare of the people who work for their basic needs and it is important to legislate such workers due to the possibility of getting exploited in the name of work also with no proper wages. There are lots of labor laws which are enacted by the center and since labor comes under concurrent list, state governments also had enacted several labor laws. While the concept of labor laws was initiated in the pre-independence era for the benefit of the British government, it gained popularity due to the Industrial Revolution due to the continuous result of conflict between the employers and employees. While one of the few earlier laws is The Trade dispute Act, The Factories Act 1948, where few important things such as Abolition of child labor and Stipulation of work for eight hours and overtime wages beyond that, etc., were agreed.
As described earlier, there were several labor laws for the welfare of the employees and the government wanted to enact and one of the few legislations are the Minimum Wages Act 1948, Plantation Labour Act 1961, The Factories Act 1948, Industrial Disputes, Payment of Bonus act 1948, Workmen’s compensation Act, 1923, etc., and there are several legislations that were enacted by each state governments.
While different legislations had different objectives and were enacted due to various reasons, and the time frame and to cater to different problems of the workers who constitute the great amount of population in this country. Although these legislations acted as an important tool when India went into LPG reforms, which led many international companies to employ our citizens here. However, all these legislations weren’t as fruitful as many people thought when it was enacted, for which the lack of proper implementation by the employers was not watched by the executives. There are discussions taking place to club all these laws into four broad categories.
Importance of Labour Laws
While the initial labor laws were enacted in the pre-independence era, the labor laws are important to promote social justice and social welfare to the workers who are present around the country by providing adequate wages, promoting equality, discouraging discrimination, fair working hours, abolishing child labor, etc., and it is important to have the same due to liberalization of the economic situation, it enables every employer to abide by the laws and be fair to his employees and the society as a whole. While with all such laws, we can see the amount of exploitation happening everywhere around the country and one can imagine the exploitation that would happen if there are no labor laws at all in this country. The judiciary has now and again has come to rescue the workers and prevented mass exploitation of laborers whenever it happens around the country.
Labour reform is one of the key parts of this government’s manifesto and reforming into 4 categories which is necessary for the current scenario. Since this comes under concurrent lists, both state and central governments should try to back this labor reform and try to satisfy various stakeholders in this sector. During this pandemic times, various states like Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have abandoned or paused the labor laws for three years which will promote the organizations to fire their workers and although this is a tough period for everyone, a complete suspension on labor laws might not be the best solution for the parties involved and it seems like the governments are favoring the employers over the poor employees.
Problems in Implementing Labour laws
The labor laws are very restrictive and mandate strict orders from the companies which have more than 100 employees to seek prior approval from labor authorities for various things. The Industrial Employment Act, 1946 even mandates employees to seek permission to even reassign tasks. While these laws are clearly for the welfare of the workers, they are restricting the freedom of the employers to a great extent. The government to protect the employees, have overreached through the legislation made and this has led to many companies not to implement the labor laws and this has also indirectly encouraging usage of the informal sector of laborers for the working of the companies.
While there are many factors in which implementing the laws, the overreach is of great significance in failing to implement labor laws. Such overreach has made many trade unions and companies to go against such labor laws and they refrain from these laws very much. This made many companies use the informal sector of laborers and escape from such restrictions and conditions from the government. While 81% of laborers are from the unorganized sector of the economy, the Indian government should try to reduce this percentage by framing legislations that promote companies to recruit laborers in the formal economy but these labor laws which are there at present, promotes informal sector of laborers to refrain from government actions in the working sectors. Therefore, although the labor laws were enacted with a clear objective to help the laborers, the reality has been different and the legislature has failed massively in implementation due to the aforementioned reasons.
This has been the critical case while implementing the labor laws, labor reforms are necessary but the suspension of labor laws for an indefinite period as made by various states does not seem to be the right way in these difficult pandemic times. While courts have come to the rescue to save employees, the executive seems to be in the favour of the employers and it is only the judiciary that can help turn that over.
Labour laws, though are essential at every point of time, they seem to lose their objective by overreaching the importance and increased the scope of the labour force in the informal sector and not reducing it. Governments should seek out this problem for proper implementation of labor laws and help to satisfy all the people involved in this sector, not just one of them which has been the case as of now.
Labour laws are essential in today’s world and it is important for the welfare of the employees but like so many legislations, the labor laws which are many in numbers, require proper implementation for achieving its objective. Though we have achieved the basic requirements that the International Labour Organization (ILO) and has helped achieve basic wages, and by reducing exploitation and discrimination, however without proper implementation, we cannot get the full benefit of the legislation and the laws here face serious problems in implementation dissatisfying various employers and by overreaching which made the employers not to implement the laws and encouraging the informal sector to not to formalize under government conditions and regulations. Labor reforms are necessary to satisfy all the parties as much as possible and to formalize the labor reforms and such laws need to be amended according to the present needs and requirements. Implementation of labor laws is of such importance and the same has been failed because of the stringent labor laws, and the same has to be amended to promote the implementation of such laws and satisfy the welfare of the employees. Hence proper implementation is required to better the situation of laborers around the country and to be supportive to them in this difficult period and also way beyond this period to achieve the objectives of labor laws.
- Is there any need for labor reforms?
- Problems in Implementing the labor laws?
- Is the suspension of labor laws the right decision?
- What are how labor laws that can be better implemented?
- How can the informal sector in labor be reduced?