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Labour Laws Amidst Covid-19

The law relating to labour and employment in India is primarily known under the broad category of �Industrial Law�. The laws for labour, the multifarious set of law deals with matters such as condition of work, employment, remuneration, industrial relations and trade unions. In a blanket sense, the term comprehends social security as well as disability insurance.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment seeks to safeguard the interests of staff in general and people or agencies who represent the poor, deprived and underprivileged sections of the society, in explicit, with due relevance to making a healthy work atmosphere for higher production and productivity, and developing and coordinating line of work ability coaching and employment services.

In earlier time of development the extent of labour law was bound to the most developing and important industries, to agreements above the certain dimensions, and to those earning wages. Further these limitations were excluded and the scope of law was gradually enlarged to include handicrafts, rural industries, and agriculture, small undertaking, etc. Thus earlier it intended to protect the workers doing physical labour in industries, but now transfigured into a wide ranging body consisting of judicial principles and standards which includes 2 basic functions:
  • To protect the workers who are weaker party in employment relationship.
  • Regulating relation among industries i.e. the relation between organised interests group.
Industrial Law correlate with the laws governing industrial enterprises. Predominantly, these can incorporate various legal subject matter, from employment laws to environmental concerns, industrial relations, contracts and also the workers� safety regulations. Industries differ comprehensively and the policies for each is as distinctive as the business to which it associates.

Legal Provisions Relating To:

  1. Equality And Empowerment Of Women:

    • Maternity Benefits Act, 1961
    • Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
    • The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976
    • Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986
    • Prohibitive Labour Laws
    • The Beedi and Cigar Workers ( Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966
    • The Sexual Harassment at the Workplace ( Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
  2. Industrial Relations:

    • Trade Unions Act, 1926
    • Payment of Wages Act, 1936
    • Industrial Dispute Act, 1947
    • Minimum Wages Act, 1948
    • Payment of Bonus Act, 1965
    • Laws relating to Wages
  3. Employment And Training:

    • Employment Exchanges ( Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959
    • Apprentices Act, 1961
  4. Conditions, Industrial Relations, Wage, Welfare And Social Securities:

    • Factories Act, 1948
    • Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946
    • Shops and Commercial Establishments Act (of Respective States)
    • Contract Labour ( Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970
    • Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979
    • Weekly Holiday Act, 1942
    • National and Festival Holidays Act (Of Respective States), 1963
    • The Plantation Labour Act, 1951
    • The Mines Act, 1952
    • The Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986.
  5. Social Security:

    • Employees� Compensation Act, 1923
    • Employees� State Insurance Act, 1948
    • Employees� Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952
    • Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972
    • Labour Welfare Fund Act (of Respective States)

State Wise Moderation Of Labour Laws During Covid-19

To foster economic growth amidst the ongoing COVID� 19 pandemic, various States in India came out with concerned ordinances and notifications comprehending exemptions from compliance with certain labour laws.

Uttar Pradesh

By promulgating , the government of Uttar Pradesh suspended almost all labour laws. The Uttar Pradesh Temporary Exemption from Certain Labour Laws Ordinance, 2020. Section 3 of the Ordinance lays down the labour laws, sections of labour laws and other rules that will be remaining in force in this 3 year period.

According to this, the laws that will continue to be enforceable in the State are as follows:
  • The Building and other Construction Workers Act, 1996;
  • The Workmen Compensation Act, 1923;
  • The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976
  • Section 5 of the Payment of Wages Act.

Madhya Pradesh

Similarly, the government of Madhya Pradesh also promulgated Madhya Pradesh Labour Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
This Ordinance provides for suspension of Industrial Dispute Act, and laws that were amended are as follows:
  • Madhya Pradesh Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1961.


Certain relaxation have been provided to factories that were governed under Factories Act, 1948. Provisions that related to weekly hours, daily hours, intervals for rest, etc. Of Adult workers under section 51, 54, 55, 56. The factories shall exempt these provisions and the conditions laid were to be followed April, 20 to July 9, 2020.

Himachal Pradesh

The rules for labours formed here in Himachal Pradesh were similar to the rules of Gujarat. Under sections 51, 54, 55, 56 of the Factories Act, the factories shall be exempted. Working hour for adult workers have increased to 12 hours a day with a weekly increase of 72 hours for which the workers would be entitled to overtime wages.

Wages should be provided to workers in proportion to the prevailing minimum salary fixed by the Himachal Pradesh Government under Minimum Wages Act, 1948. The worker shouldn�t work for more than 6 hours before he has had an interval for remainder of minimum of half an hour and female worker should not work between 7pm to 6am in any factory.


To enhance the economy of the state, Kerala Government has announced alternative methods . The new factory setups would be provided with their Industry License within a week�s time. The payment of salary of contractual, casual, daily emolument and outsourced staff were extended till May 17th, 2020.


Various exemptions has been provided in labour law legislation by the government of Rajasthan. The time of adult working hours under Factories Act has been exempted for 3 months. Increment in working hours i.e. from 8 hours to 12 hours and also extra-time of 4 hours were allowed and the workers working overtime shall be provided with wages according to the rules made. Workers will be restricted from going home and coming back during the day to half and will be given permission once the day and once the night.

Similarly states like Haryana, Uttarakhand and Punjab also went on to exempt various labour laws during this pandemic.

This refurbishment within the obsolete labour legislations have actuated the corporations to urge back to work, but the trade unions are up in arms. The moves taken by the government are criticized by the trade unions and conjointly stating the identical to violation of International Labour regimes and world standards. For reconciliation, the rights of labours moreover as incentivizing industries to operate several different States are in the process of reshaping the Labour Laws.

Such initiatives taken by the government guarantees fighting with the shortage of migrant labours caused due to lockdown in the whole country. To follow up with the rule of social distancing the longer shifts of the labour would conjointly guarantee a lesser number of labours. For swish operating of the business and to overcome the financial condition such relaxations have been provided within the labour laws so as to alleviate the distress and miseries of each employers and employees throughout these crisis the mechanism should work properly.

Written By: Rupal Saxena - BALLB(H), Amity Law School, Lucknow.

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