The Ministry of Labour and Employment on November 19, 2020 introduced the Draft Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions (Central) Rules, 20201 (hereinafter referred to as 'draft rules') inviting objections and suggestions, if any, from the stakeholders. Objections and suggestions are required to be submitted within a period of 45 days from the date of notification of the draft rules. The draft rules enumerate provisions relating to safety, health and working conditions of the different workmen including but not limited to Dock Workers, Building or other construction workers, Mines workers, Inter-State Migrant worker, Contract labour, Working journalist, Audio-visual workers and Sales promotion employees, etc. The salient features of the draft rules include the following:
- Registration on Shram Suvidha Portal- Online registration of an establishment by an employer on the Shram Suvidha Portal can be done by submitting the prescribed form along with required documents. Accordingly, the Certificate of Registration shall be issued immediately subject to completion of documents. However, the same shall be not be issued after a period of 7 days from the date of submission of application. Any update in the records of an already registered establishment shall also be done on the Shram Suvidha Portal.
- Medical examination for every worker- Every employer of factory, dock, mine and building or other construction work shall arrange for a free of cost, medical examination for every worker, on an annual basis and within 120 days from the commencement of every calendar year. The eligible worker shall be the one who has completed 45 years of age.
- Issuance of Letter of appointment- No employee shall be employed in any establishment unless he has been issued a letter of appointment in the format as prescribed in the draft rules.
- Duties of an employer - If there has been death of an employee or an injury due to an accident in the establishment which is a factory, dock work, mines, building or other construction site, the employer has to mandatorily notify the authorities and family of the employee in the format as prescribed in the draft rules. The same shall be in the case of diseases as well.
- Duties of an employee - If an employee comes to know that of any unsafe or unhealthy condition in the establishment, he shall report to the employer, health and safety representative or safety officer or agent or manager in case of mine, as soon as practicable, electronically or in writing or telephonically.
- Rights of the employee - On receipt of information from the employee relating to the existence of an imminent danger to their safety and health, the employer shall take immediate remedial action in this regard. The employer, whether satisfied or not, shall send a report forthwith of such actions taken, to the relevant authorities electronically or by registered post or speed post.
- Appointment of a safety officer for advising and assisting in the fulfilment of its obligations, statutory, concerning prevention of personal injuries and maintaining a safe working environment.
- Working hours:
- No worker shall be required or allowed to work in an establishment for more than forty-eight hours in any week.
- 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.
- Working hours of working journalist: The provisions of the draft shall apply to working journalist but not apply to editors, or to correspondents, reporters or news photographers. Additionally, the number of hours which shall constitute a normal working day for a working journalist excluding the time for meals shall exceed 6 hours per day in the case of a day shift and five and a half hours per day in the case of a night shift and no working journalist shall ordinarily be required or allowed to work for longer than the number of hours constituting a normal working day. Quarantine leave on full wages shall also be granted by the newspaper establishment on the certificate of the authorized medical practitioner.
- Proper Display of Establishment details- Every employer be mandatorily required to display at the conspicuous place of the workplace of the establishment, notice showing the details including but not limited to, name and address of the establishment, hours of work, wage period, date of payment of such wages, details of accident and dangerous occurrence in the establishment for the last five years, name and address of the such authority having jurisdiction to such establishment and date of payment of unpaid wages to such workers in English, Hindi and in the Local Language understood by the majority of the workers.
- The draft rules also cover the eligibility, qualifications and conditions for issuance, revocation, renewal and suspension of license to a contract labour.
In view of the above mentioned salient features of the draft rules, it is pertinent to mention that the said rules can bring radical and significant changes in the existing framework of work management of workers. Specific inclusion of mine workers, journalists, inter-state migrants and audio visual workers provides protection against exploitation of the workers especially looking into the atrocities which have been borne by them during the COVID 19 pandemic. However, it would be rather interesting to witness the suggestions and comments received from the stakeholders and their say regarding the draft rules.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.