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  • Rs 13,300 crores disbursed as special COVID claim to help Indian workforce: Santosh Gangwar, MoS Labour and employment

    Published on December 16, 2020

    New Delhi: The central government has approved more than 52 lakh claims and disbursed around Rs 13300 crores through the Employment Provident Fund organisation (EPFO)’s  special COVID-19 advance claim to help out the formal sector workers, stated Minister of State, Labour and employment, Shri Santosh Gangwar at a session on labour reforms at the ‘ASSOCHAM Foundation Week’ organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) to commemorate the 101st anniversary of the organization.

    Highlighting the steps taken by the Labour Ministry, the honourable minister informed that under the Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana, those insured who have lost their jobs due to the lockdown will be paid 50 per cent of their last drawn salaries for the period of three months as employment remuneration to help them sustain during these challenging times.

    “As a part of the direct help to the workforce, under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana, for all new employees who have joined the workforce between 1st October 2020 -30th June 2021, will be paid a contribution of 24 per cent in their EPF account for a period of two years. This benefit would be provided to employees with a salary of less than Rs 15000 per month,” he said.

    The minister further explained that to avail the benefit, the employers with staff strength of less than 50 employees will have to employ 2 new employees and those with staff strength of more than 50 will have to hire at least 5 new staff members.  “Those who have lost their jobs during the COVID lockdown and are reinstated would also be eligible to avail the benefit,” he informed.

    Companies with more than 1000 employees would get an additional benefit through a 12 per cent employee’s contribution paid by the central government. “Through these schemes not only new employment opportunities are created, but a direct benefit would also be passed on to the companies,” he added.

    According to the honourable minister, all the 50 crore workforce have been brought under the purview of the Minimum Wages Act. “Provisions of the OSH Code have been introduced to provide workers with a safe working environment. Through the Social Security Code, several important measures have been taken to establish Universal Social Security Coverage. In addition, a simple and transparent dispute settlement system has also been established through the IR code,” the minister pointed out.

    Speaking about the Fixed Term Employees, he also stated that the government would ensure that they would have all the facilities and benefits that a regular employee enjoys. “The labour ministry with an intention to simplify the labor codes has decided to eliminate multiple registration requirements. So now, instead of registrations under 8 different acts, only one registration would be sufficient. Also instead of 3 licenses under various laws, only one license would be enough,” he revealed.

    He informed that the Draft for the IR Code, OSH Code and Social Security Code is ready and notified. “We have been asking suggestions from all the stakeholders and common citizens on the Ministry’s website,” he said.

    To lighten the burden of the business units, several permissions, licenses and approvals would be provided the ‘deemed approval’ facility, he said. “We believe that through these measures, while there would a marked improvement in the ease of living for the workforce, it would also encourage a lot of new businesses to flourish,” he added.

    Dr. Niranjan Hiranadani, President, ASSOCHAM said, “While labour reforms intend to make ease of doing business, an amendment in the provisions of ESI Corporation is the need of the hour. Especially, a due consideration needs to be given to public-private participation which will significantly improve the condition of the infrastructure of ESI Hospitals, increase indirect employment and will ensure an improvement of the required facility inside hospitals to the patient workers and their families”.

    Mr. Vineet Agarwal, Sr. VP, ASSOCHAM and Managing Director, TCIL said , “We welcome the merger of the existing twenty-nine labour laws into the four new codes. It is an appreciable effort to integrate all existing labour laws in the country, this will undoubtedly simplify the compliance process and will end red-tapism.”

    Ms Preeti Malhotra, Chairman, Smart Bharat Group said, “Labour reforms will improve skill, health and livelihood of workers and employees which will add to their efficiency and effectiveness towards productivity resulting in an accretion to resources, infrastructure to their respective organizations and contribution to the economic growth of Atma Nirbhar Bharat”

    Mr Manoj K Sharma, Sr, Vice President & Head-HRD, Adani Electricity Mumbai Ltd said, “Unlike any other long-term plan and reforms led by the government, the recent labour reforms to boost India’s economic growth in the medium term itself, as workers in the large unorganised sector will have better access to social security and overall infrastructure for occupational safety is going to add strength to strength.

    Mr. D V Shastry, ED (Training, R&D and Startup), GAIL (India) Ltd said, In today’s era of knowledge and skill-based economy and especially towards competitive advantage, the overhaul of labour laws will certainly help and strengthen the workers and pave the way to perfection for Atmanirbhar Bharat. Learn, unlearn, relearn and retool is the mantra for making India future-ready. This will go a a long way in deriving the intended benefit from the labour law reforms.

    Mr Rajneesh Gupta, Sr. Vice President-General Affairs, Honda India Power Products Ltd also said Proper implementation is key to the spirit of enactment…alignment and uniformity between central and state regulations, rules and scheme is necessary for ease of doing business by companies in multiple states…