There are several legislations which regulate the conditions of employment, work environment and other welfare requirements of certain specific industries. These enactments deal with factories and workshops; mines and minerals; plantations; shops and establishments as well as transportation. Some of the major legislations are:-
The Factories Act,1948 is the umbrella legislation enacted to regulate the working conditions in factories. According to the Act, a ‘factory’ means “any premises including the precincts thereof:- (i) whereon ten or more workers are working, or were working on any day of the preceding twelve months, and in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on with the aid of power, or is ordinarily so carried on; or (ii) whereon twenty or more workers are working, or were working on any day of the preceding twelve months, and in any part of which a manufacturing process is being carried on without the aid of power, or is ordinarily so carried on; but this does not include a mine subject to the operation of the Mines Act, 1952 , or a mobile unit belonging to the armed forces of the union, a railway running shed or a hotel, restaurant or eating place.”
The Act is administered by the Ministry of Labour and Employment through its Directorate General Factory Advice Service & Labour Institutes (DGFASLI) and by the State Governments through their factory inspectorates. DGFASLI serves as a technical arm to assist the Ministry in formulating national policies on occupational safety and health in factories and docks.
The Plantation Labour Act, 1951 provides for the welfare of plantation labour and regulates the conditions of work in plantations. According to the Act, the term ‘plantation’ means “any plantation to which this Act, whether wholly or in part, applies and includes offices, hospitals, dispensaries, schools, and any other premises used for any purpose connected with such plantation, but does not include any factory on the premises to which the provisions of the Factories Act,1948 apply”.
The Act is administered by the Ministry of Labour through its Industrial Relations Division . The Division is concerned with improving the institutional framework for dispute settlement and amending labour laws relating to industrial relations. It works in close co-ordination with the Central Industrial Relations Machinery (CIRM) in an effort to ensure that the country gets a stable, dignified and efficient workforce, free from exploitation and capable of generating higher levels of output.
The Mines Act, 1952 contains provisions for measures relating to the health, safety and welfare of workers in the coal, metalliferous and oil mines. According to the Act,the term ‘mine’ means “any excavation where any operation for the purpose of searching for or obtaining minerals has been or is being carried on and includes all borings, bore holes, oil wells and accessory crude conditioning plants, shafts, opencast workings, conveyors or aerial ropeways, planes, machinery works, railways, tramways, slidings, workshops, power stations, etc. or any premises connected with mining operations and near or in the mining area”.
The Act is administered by the Ministry of Labour and Employment through the Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS). DGMS is the Indian Government regulatory agency for safety in mines and oil-fields. It conducts inspections and inquiries, issues competency tests for the purpose of appointment to various posts in the mines, organises seminars/conferences on various aspects of safety of workers.
The Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970 was enacted to regulate employment of contract labour so as to place it at par with labour employed directly, with regard to the working conditions and certain other benefits. Contract labour refers to “the workers engaged by a contractor for the user enterprises”. These workers are generally engaged in agricultural operations, plantation, construction industry, ports & docks, oil fields, factories, railways, shipping, airlines, road transport, etc.
The Act is implemented both by the Centre and the State Governments. The Central Government has jurisdiction over establishments like railways, banks, mines etc. and the State Governments have jurisdiction over units located in that state. In the Central sphere, the Central Industrial Relations Machinery (CIRM) headed by Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) and his officers have been entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing the provisions of the Act and the rules made thereunder.
The Building & Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment & Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 was enacted to regulate the employment and conditions of service of building and other construction workers and to provide for their safety, health and welfare measures. The Act is applicable to every establishment which employs ten or more workers in any building or other construction work and to the projects costing more than Rs. 10 lakh. The Act contains provision for immediate assistance to the workers in case of accidents; old age pension; loans for construction of house; premia for group insurance; financial assistance for education, medical expenses and maternity benefits, etc.
The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961 was enacted to provide for the welfare of motor transport workers and to regulate the conditions of their work. It applies to every motor transport undertaking employing five or more motor transport workers. The State Government may, after giving notification in the Official Gazette, apply all or any of the provisions of this Act to any motor
transport undertaking employing less than five motor transport workers. According to the Act, ‘motor transport undertaking’ means “an undertaking engaged in carrying passengers or goods or both by road for hire or reward and includes a private carrier”.
Every employer of a motor transport undertaking to which this Act applies shall have the undertaking registered under this Act. No adult motor transport worker shall be required or allowed to work for more than eight hours in any day and forty-eight hours in any week. Also, no adolescent shall be employed or required to work as a motor transport worker in any motor transport undertaking for more than six hours a day including rest interval of half-an-hour; and between the hours of 10 P.M. and 6 A.M.
The Sales Promotion Employees (Conditions of Service) Act, 1976 was enacted to regulate certain conditions of service of sales promotion employees in certain establishments. According to the Act, the term ‘sales promotion employees’ means, “any person by whatever name called (including an apprentice) employed or engaged in any establishment for hire or reward to do include any such person:- (i) who, being employed or engaged in a supervisory capacity, draws wages exceeding sixteen hundred rupees per mensem; or (ii) who is employed or engaged mainly in a managerial or administrative capacity”.
The Act shall apply to every establishment engaged in the pharmaceutical industry. The Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, apply the provisions of this Act, to any other establishment engaged in any notified industry. Every employer in relation to an establishment shall keep and maintain such registers and other documents and in such manner as may be prescribed.
The Shops and Establishments Act,1953 was enacted to provide statutory obligation and rights to employees and employers in the unorganised sector of employment, i.e. shops and establishments. It is applicable to all persons employed in an establishment with or without wages, except the members of the employer’s family. It is a State legislation and each State has framed its own rules for the Act. The State Government can exempt, either permanently or for a specified period, any establishments from all or any provisions of this Act. The Act provides for compulsory registration of shop/ establishment within thirty days of commencement of work and all communications of closure of an establishment within 15 days from its closing. It also lays down the hours of work per day and week as well as the guidelines for spread-over, rest interval, opening and closing hours, closed days, national and religious holidays, overtime work, etc.
The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 was enacted to protect the rights and safeguard the interest of migrant workers. The Act intends to regulate the employment of inter-state migrant workmen and to provide their conditions of service. It applies to every establishment and the contractor, who employ five or more inter-state migrant workmen. The Act has provision for issue of Pass-Book to every inter-state migrant workman with full details, payment of displacement allowance, payment of journey allowance including payment of wage during the period of journey, suitable residential accommodation, medical facilities and protective clothing, payment of wages, equal pay for equal work irrespective of sex etc.
The responsibility for enforcement of the Act in establishments where the Central Government is the appropriate Government lies with the office of the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) and for the establishments located under the States sphere lies with the respective State Governments.
Also, to extend a measure of social assistance to workers in the unorganised sector, the concept of ‘Labour Welfare Fund’ was evolved and five welfare funds were set up under the Ministry of Labour and Employment. These funds are aimed to provide housing, medical care, educational and recreational facilities to workers employed in beedi industry, certain non-coal mines and cine workers. Such funds are financed out of the proceeds of cess levied under respective Cess/Fund Acts. The various legislation so enacted include:-
The Mica Mines Labour Welfare Fund Act, 1946 – was enacted to provide for constitution of a fund for financing the activities which promote welfare of labour employed in the mica mining industry.
The Limestone and Dolomite Mines Labour Welfare Fund Act, 1972 – was enacted to provide for the levy and collection of a cess on limestone and dolomite for financing the activities which promote the welfare of persons employed in the limestone and dolomite mines.
The Iron Ore Mines, Manganese Ore Mines & Chrome Ore Mines Labour Welfare Fund Act, 1976 – was enacted to provide for financing the activities which promote the welfare of persons employed in the iron ore mines, manganese ore mines and chrome ore mines.
The Beedi Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1976 – was enacted to provide for financing the measures which promote the welfare of persons engaged in beedi establishments.; and
The Cine Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981 – was enacted to provide for financing the activities which promote the welfare of certain cine-workers.
The above Acts provide that the fund may be applied by the Central Government to meet the expenditure incurred in connection with measures and facilities which are necessary to provide the welfare of the respective workers.