The code on wages that universalises minimum wages was passed was passed last year and the draft rules under the code has also been notified.

All establishments will require to issue appointment letters delineating skill, wages and growth avenue and foot the bill for annual free-of-cost medical examination for all factory, mine and construction workers above 45 years of age. These are among the highlights of the draft rules released by the government, under the operational safety, health and working conditions (OSH) Code that came into effect recently.

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While Code itself caps the work time in a week at 48 hours, the draft rules have stated that, “The period of work of a worker shall be so arranged that inclusive of his intervals for rest, shall not spread over for more than twelve hours in a day. The period of works of workers shall not exceed five hours and that no worker shall work for more than five hours before he has had an interval for rest of at least half an hour.”

The rules also provide for safety of women employment in all establishment for all type of work before 6 am and beyond 7 pm with their consent. In calculating overtime on any day, a fraction of an hour between 15 to 30 minutes shall be counted as 30 minutes; at present less than 30 minutes is counted as no overtime.

Further, safety committees are proposed to be made mandatory for every establishment employing 500 or more workers to provide an opportunity for the workers to represent their concern on occupational safety and health matters.

As for payment of wages to contract labour, the contractor shall fix the wage periods and no wage period shall exceed one month. Also, the wages of every person employed as contract labour in an establishment or by the contactor shall be paid before the expiry of seventh day after the last day of the wage period. The wages shall be disbursed through bank transfer or electronic mode only.

The OSH Code, 2020, covers dock workers, building or other construction workers, mines workers, inter-state migrant worker, contract labour, working journalists, audio-visual workers and sales promotion employees.

The draft rules, to be kept open for suggestions from the stakeholders for the next 45 days before finalisation, proposes an all-India single licence for contractor supplying or engaging contract labour in more than one state for five years as against work order-based licensing system at present.

Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder and executive vice-president, Teamlease, said, “Overall, the rules are practical and is balanced assigning clear accountabilities for all stakeholders involved – workers, employers and contractors.”

The rules also propose that an employer will have to pay a lump sum amount on account of fare for to & fro journey to inter-state migrant worker by train, not less than II Class Sleeper, or by bus or any other mode of passenger transport from the place of employment to the place of residence in the home state in case he has worked for a period of not less than 180 days in the concerned establishment in preceding twelve months.

Women have been allowed to work in the night shift; but the employer will have to seek their consent and provide pick-up and drop facility at her residence for such employees; the workplace including passage towards conveniences or facilities concerning toilet, washrooms, drinking water, entry and exit of women employee should be well-lit and the toilet, washroom and drinking facilities should be near the workplace where such women employee are employed.

Immediately after taking over, the Modi 1.0 government embarked on amalgamating numerous central labour acts into four codes. The code on wages that universalises minimum wages was passed was passed last year and the draft rules under the code has also been notified.

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