Govt looks to provide companies having up to 300 workers with power to sack staff

While labour reforms have not made much progress so far, the government may move quickly to enable establishments employing up to 300 workers to lay off employees without government approval. Currently, this is permitted for establishments with up to 100 workers. Finance minister Arun Jaitley reaffirmed in the Union Budget for 2017-18 the government’s commitment to legislative reforms geared to simplify, rationalise and amalgamate the 44 central labour laws into 4 codes — wages, industrial relations, social security & welfare and safety & working conditions. Industry is looking for speedy action and enactment of these codes.
“The suggestion to have four labour codes is two years old and there was not too much for labour in an otherwise pragmatic Budget,” said Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder and senior vice-president, Teamlease.

Immediately after assuming office, the Narendra Modi government took up the long-pending labour reform initiative tipped to be the biggest ever since Independence, with the objective of making India a global manufacturing hub and ensuring the ease of doing business, where India ranks poorly at 130.
While the code on wages has been gathering dust in the Cabinet secretariat for more than a year now, the code on industrial relations is also awaiting a nod. Labour ministry sources said there was no clarity on when these two would be taken up for consideration. The drafting of the two other codes is in progress.
Following Cabinet’s approval, these codes could be tabled in Parliament. However, there could be protests from political outfits since the proposed rules prohibit politicians from becoming union leaders in organised sector establishments.
Jaitley, however, said the government was keen on fostering a conducive labour environment wherein labour rights were protected and harmonious labour relations lead to higher productivity.
The draft code on wages empowers the states to fix minimum wages and make national minimum wages mandatory. These are central laws and not binding for the states to follow.