Amendments to existing lawsLegislation Updates

The Code on Social Security, 2020 received Presidential Assent on 28-09-2020.

The Code on Social Security, 2020

Second National Commission on Labour, which submitted its report in June, 2002 had recommended that the existing set of labour laws should be broadly amalgamated into the following groups, namely:—

(a) industrial relations; (b) wages; (c) social security; (d) safety; and (e) welfare and working conditions.

With the introduction of the Code, the following Acts are repealed:

 1. The Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923;

2. The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948;

3. The Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952;

4. The Employment Exchanges (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959;

5. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961;

6. The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972;

7. The Cine-Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981;

8. The Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, 1996;

9. The Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008.

Benefit of amalgamation of the above-stated laws:

It will remove the multiplicity of definitions and authorities without compromising the basic concepts of welfare and benefits to workers.

Widening the scope of the benefits to the fixed-term employees would be a big step towards equity.

Features of the Bill:

(i) to amend and consolidate the laws relating to social security with the goal to extend social security to all employees and workers either in the organised or unorganised or any other sectors;

(ii) to provide for an establishment to be covered under Chapter III relating to Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) and under Chapter IV relating to Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) on a voluntary basis even if the number of employees in that establishment is less than the threshold. It further seeks to make those Chapters inapplicable to such establishments on fulfilment of certain conditions;

(iii) to define various expressions used in the Bill such as, “career centre”, “aggregator”, “gig worker”, “platform worker”, “wage ceiling”, etc. Further, the definition of “employee” has been comprehensively elaborated to cover maximum number of employees and workers;

(iv) to provide for registration, electronically or otherwise, of every establishment to which the Bill applies, within such time and in such manner as the Central Government may by rules determine. It further provides for an option for cancellation of registration by any establishment whose business activities are in the process of closure, subject to the conditions as may be prescribed by the Central Government;

(v) constitution of various social security organisations for the administration of the Bill, namely, (a) the Central Board of Trustees of the Employees’ Provident Fund (Central Board), (b) the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (Corporation), (c) the National Social Security Board for Unorganised Workers (National Social Security Board), (d) the State Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Board and (e) the State Building Workers Welfare Boards;

(vi) to provide that the medical education institutions and training institutes of the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation may be run by the Corporation itself or on the request of the Corporation, by the Central Government, any State Government, any Public Sector Undertaking of the Central Government or the State Government or any other body notified by the Central Government;

(vii) to empower the Central Government to frame schemes for unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers and the members of their families for providing benefits relating to Employees’ State Insurance Corporation;

(viii) provisions for maternity benefits such as prohibition from work during certain periods, provision of nursing breaks, crèche facility, claim for maternity benefits, etc.;

(ix) to empower the Central Government, by notification, to assign additional work, including administration of any other enactment or scheme relating to social security, to any of the social security organisations and the expenses towards such additional work shall be borne by the Central Government;

(x) to empower the Central Government to frame schemes for the purposes of providing social security benefits to self-employed workers or any other class of persons;

(xi) to empower the Central Government to specify by notification, rates of employees’ contributions to the Employees’ Provident Fund Scheme and the period for which such rates shall apply for any class of employee;

(xii) to provide for an appeal against an order passed by any authority in regard to determination and assessment of dues and levy of damages relating to Employees’ Provident Fund by an employer only after depositing with Social Security Organisation concerned, twenty-five per cent. of the amount due from him as determined by the authority against whose order the appeal has been preferred;

(xiii) to provide that in the case of an employee employed on fixed-term employment or a deceased employee, the employer shall pay gratuity on a pro-rata basis and not on the basis of continuous service of five years;

(xiv) to make provision for payment of cess by an employer in case of building and other construction work, payable under Chapter VIII on the basis of his self-assessment;

(xv) to provide for the registration of every unorganised worker, gig worker or platform worker on the basis of self-declaration electronically or otherwise, along with such documents including Aadhaar number, in such form and in such manner, containing such information as may be prescribed by the Central Government;

(xvi) to empower the Central Government by order, to defer or reduce employer’s contribution, or employee’s contribution, or both, payable under Chapter III or Chapter IV, as the case may be, for a period up to three months at a time, in respect of establishment to which Chapter III or Chapter IV, as the case may be, applies, for the whole of India or part thereof in the event of a pandemic, endemic or national disaster;

(xvii) to provide for establishment and maintenance of separate accounts under social security fund, for the welfare of unorganised workers, gig workers and platform workers; and a separate account for the amount received from the composition of offences under the Bill or under any other central labour laws.

Read the detailed Act, here: Code on Social Security, 2020

Ministry of Law and Justice

Hot Off The PressNews

The Government of India has taken a historic decision to reduce the rate of contribution under the ESI Act from 6.5% to 4%(employers’ contribution being reduced from 4.75% to 3.25% and employees’ contribution being reduced from 1.75% to 0.75%. Reduced rates will be effective from 01-07-2019  This would benefit 3.6 crore employees and 12.85 lakh, employees.

The reduced rate of contribution will bring about a substantial relief to workers and it will facilitate further enrollment of workers under the ESI scheme and bring more and more workforce into the formal sector. Similarly, reduction in the share of contribution of employers will reduce the financial liability of the establishments leading to improved viability of these establishments. This shall also lead to enhanced Ease of Doing Business. It is also expected that the reduction in the rate of ESI contribution shall lead to improved compliance of law.

About the Employees’ State Insurance Act,1948 :

The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948 (the ESI Act) provides for medical, cash, maternity, disability and dependent benefits to the Insured Persons under the Act. The ESI Act is administered by Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC). Benefits provided under the ESI Act are funded by the contributions made by the employers and the employees.

Under the ESI Act, employers and employees both contribute their shares respectively. The Government of India through the Ministry of Labour and Employment decides the rate of contribution under the ESI Act. Presently, the rate of contribution is fixed at 6.5% of the wages with employers’ share being 4.75% and employees’ share being 1.75%. This rate is in vogue since 01-01-1997.

In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 95 of the said Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948, the Central Government, after consultation with the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation, hereby makes the following rules further to amend the Employees’ State Insurance (Central) Rules, 1950, namely:-

1. (1) These rules may be called the Employee’s State Insurance (Central) Amendment Rules, 2019;

(2) They shall come into force on the 1st day of July, 2019.

2. In the Employees’ State Insurance (Central) Rules, 1950, in Rule 51, –

(a) in clause (a), for the words “equal to four and three-fourth per cent of the wages”, the words “equal to three and one-fourth per cent. of the wages” shall be substituted;

(b) in clause (b), for the words “equal to one and three-fourth per cent of the wages”, the words “equal to three-fourth per cent. of the wages” shall be substituted.

[Press Release dt. 13-06-2019]

[Source: PIB]

Ministry of Labour & Employment