The pending implementation of streamlined labour codes could top the 100-day agenda of a new government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after the general election, said people with knowledge of the matter. A shift toward ‘living wages’ from ‘minimum wages’, social security for all unorganised workers and measures to improve women’s workforce participation are also likely to figure on the short and mediumterm agenda of a BJP-led regime, as per plans the labour ministry is working on.

A senior government official told ET the plan is to roll out the labour codes from the beginning of the next fiscal year on April 1, 2025, to sync it with the business cycle. “However, it is important to come up with the rollout plan in advance so that enterprises get enough time to prepare for the changes that will come in with the codes,” the official said.

The government has already begun working on possible challenges and is deliberating on how to monitor implementation.

Laying the Groundwork

“Work is going on to make social security organisations under the labour ministry, including the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation and the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation, receptive to the changes under the codes,” the official said.

Slow Progress Made by States

The Codes on Wages was passed by Parliament in 2019 while the Social Security Code, Industrial RelationsCode and the Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions were passed in 2020. The pandemic and slow progress by states on framing rules have delayed implementation of codes — labour is on the concurrent list. Also, some unions are critical of the provisions as being anti-worker.The four labour codes are aimed at “strengthening the protection available to workers, including unorganised workers in terms of statutory minimum wage, social security and healthcare of workers,” according to the government.

Other focus areas

The ministry had earlier this year issued an advisory for employers to promote female workforce participation and is eyeing more interventions in this respect. It’s in discussions with the stakeholders to identify steps that could boost this metric. Work is also ongoing to prepare the ground for a switch to ‘living wages’ from ‘minimum wages’. The labour ministry is in talks with the International Labour Organization to arrive at this, ET reported on March 25. The ministry has also initiated work on extending some form of social security to all unorganised workers through the e-Shram portal under its vision of universal social security.

The government is of the view that labour reforms will play a significant role in attracting investments in manufacturing and achieving the vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, officials said.

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