Lobby group Confederation of Indian Industry, in a memorandum to the labour ministry last week, said current rules lean towards protecting existing jobs rather than creating new ones for the millions of unemployed. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
Lobby group Confederation of Indian Industry, in a memorandum to the labour ministry last week, said current rules lean towards protecting existing jobs rather than creating new ones for the millions of unemployed. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Less red tape, unique labour ID for companies on the cards

Unique ID number, single window to report labour law compliance among proposals in govt document aiming to streamline and simplify procedures

New Delhi: A unique labour identification (ID) number for businesses and a single window to report labour law compliance are among proposals in a labour ministry document aiming to streamline and simplify procedures.

The ministry administers 44 labour laws including the Factories Act, the Child Labour Act and the Minimum Wages Act, enforced by various Union and state agencies.

Initially, the single-window platform will cover at least 16 labour laws under the central labour commissioner, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation and the Directorate General of Mines Safety.

“There have been requests from various corners for ensuring simplification of formats, ease of compliance, transparency in inspections and speedy redressal of grievances," the labour ministry said.

To address these concerns, a website is being developed “to facilitate single-window compliance of labour laws including online registration by employers, returns, inspections and redressal of grievances," the ministry document said.

The ministry is planning to launch a pilot project in October after going through the public’s comments and suggestions on the proposals.

The Web portal will make reporting easier and improve transparency and monitoring of labour inspections, using key performance indices. It will also provide a grievance redressal system linked to the portal of the department of administrative reforms and public grievances.

“The inspection scheme will ensure predetermined criteria-based random selection for inspections, to enhance transparency and accountability," it said.

Several meetings between experts, industries and trade unions will be held in the next three months, with the aim of creating a balance between growth and welfare, said a ministry official, who did not want to be named.

However, simplification of labour rules and a reduction of inspection raj, the official said, were necessary in a bleak employment scenario.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has pointed to jobless growth during the last decade under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and moved to bring in an employment policy “responsive to the aspiration of youth and in synergy with the economic growth", Mint reported on 20 June.

In the last decade, the Indian economy grew at an annual rate of around 8%, but jobs grew at less than 1%, the government had said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s election manifesto had promised to give high priority to job creation and opportunities for entrepreneurship.

The Confederation of Indian Industry, a lobby group, gave a memorandum to the labour ministry last week seeking an overhaul of rules and greater flexibility. It said the current rules lean towards protecting existing jobs rather than creating new ones for the millions of unemployed.

Some trade unions are not convinced about the government’s intentions.

“If you look at the general characteristic of so-called labour reform, it is employer-friendly," said Tapan Sen, general secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, a labour union affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM.

Sen alleged that when an individual broke the law, it was called a crime, but when industries broke labour laws, it was called smartness.

“What the Rajasthan government has moved (earlier this month) to do is not a good signal for labour rights," said Sen, who is also a Rajya Sabha member representing the CPM.

The Rajasthan government approved key amendments to the Industrial Disputes Act, the Factories Act and the Contract Labour Act in the first week of June to make it easier for firms to hire employees.

Sen said he could not understand the concept of a unique ID number for industries.

“You know what happened to Aadhaar (unique identity number for all residents)," Sen said. “Now, the new regime may have some IT (information technology) company on their rolls, to which they want to give crores of rupees."

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