Budget 2017: Labour Ministry to gun for passing of Payment of Wages Ordinance, Maternity Benefit Bill

In the upcoming Budget session, the Labour Ministry will seek the passage of its important pending Bills such as Payment of Wages Ordinance and Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, sources in the ministry said, adding that no new Bill is likely to be introduced. Also, it will pitch for enacting two other bills — Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016, and Employees’ Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

The Payment of Wages Ordinance is priority as the validity remains for six months only. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 15, but it could not be taken up for discussion.

However, the President issued an ordinance on December 28 that allows an employer to pay wages of less than R18,000 a month by cheque or digitally to bank accounts, besides in cash, by removing a requirement of employees’ written consent for the same.

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which would make it mandatory for establishments employing 10 or more people to grant 26 weeks of paid maternity leave against 12 weeks at present, will also be high on agenda. Even as the Bill has already been passed by the Upper House in August 2016, it could not be taken up for discussion.

The Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016, and the Employees’ Compensation (Amendment Bill) were already cleared by either of the Houses, but pending clearance from the other. The Factories Bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2014, proposes to increase the overtime limit for factory workers from 50 hours now to 100 hours in a quarter and to 125 hours.

The Employees’ Compensation (Amendment) Bill seeks to modify the extant Act to rationalise the penalties and bolster the rights of the workers in the organised sector.