The Occupational Safety Code, 2020 was passed and introduced in the Lok Sabha on 19 September 2020. This code was brought out to change the laws related to occupational, health and safety for workplaces. This code would be applicable to an organisation that has more than ten workers.
Occupational Safety Code checks into the safety and health of workers in a particular establishment.
Which Institutions will this code apply to?
This code will apply to the following institutions:
- Any organisation that has more than ten employees or workers.
- International Organisations.
- Coal Mines and Quarries.
- Any other establishment.
- Any form of factory.
- Any form of Dock or Shipyard as defined under the code.
- Any institution which is considered and defined as an establishment under the act.
History of the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code
The Occupational Safety Code was initially brought out in 2019. This code was brought out to amend different forms of labour law legislations relating to health and safety in a particular premise.
The Central Government had a clear notion to amend the code and merge more than ten different forms of labour law legislations.
In this code, the government has added key provisions which would apply to all industrial organisations with more than 10 workers. The key features off this code, is the introduction of technological aspects which would apply to organisations and industries.
Which labour law legislations were merged due to the Occupational Safety Code?
With a view of merge and amend existing labour laws related to occupation, health and safety the Central Government decided to amend the following:
- The Factories Act, 1948 (Factories Act);
- The Mines Act, 1952 (Mines Act);
- The Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986;
- The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 (BOCW Act);
- The Plantations Labour Act, 1951 (Plantation Act);
- The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act,1970 (CLRA);
- The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 (ISMW Act);
- The Working Journalist and other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1955 (Journalists Act);
- The Working Journalist (Fixation of Rates of Wages) Act, 1958;
- The Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961;
- Sales Promotion Employees (Condition of Service) Act, 1976 (Sales Promotion Act);
- The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966; and
- The Cine Workers and Cinema Theatre Workers (Regulation of Employment) Act, 1981 (Cine Workers Act).
Hence the primary intention of the occupational safety code was to amend the above laws and make it applicable to all forms of industrial establishments.
The occupational, health and safety code was considered and passed by both houses of the parliament on 22 and 23 September 2020. Followed by this, the Occupational Safety Code received formal assent from the President on 28 September 2020.
Some of the provisions of this code would not be applicable immediately. As per the discussions of the Central Government this code, would be brought out by the government in a phased manner.
This would mean that due to the phased system of the code, different provisions of the code would be implemented on different days. For the proper implementation of the code, different schemes have to be appropriately drafted and implemented as per the requirements.
Definitions under the Occupational Safety Code, 2020
Under the Code, the Central Government has provided definitions for interpreting the provisions related to the code.
- Meaning of Employer and Employee- Under the Occupational Safety code, the meaning of employer and employee has not been amended. Therefore the previous definitions and meaning would be used for interpretation.
- Meaning of Contract Labour, Contractor and Employer- Under the Occupational Safety Code, the definitions of Contract Labour, Contractor and Employer have the same meaning as the previous statutes. Under the 13 previous statutes, the meaning of Contract Labour, Contractor and Employer have similar meaning.
- Meaning of the Term Establishment and Factory- Under the Occupational Safety Code, the meaning of establishments would include any institution that employs more than 10 workers or employees. This code will apply to any form of establishment that follows the regulation. Any form of IT or ITES would also be covered under the provisions of this code. For one time registration process, registration of a factory will be a onetime process if the number of workers in the factory employed is more than 20.
- Meaning of the Term Occupier- Under the Occupational Safety Code, 2020 the definition of occupier would be the same definition which is present under the previous legislations. An occupier would include a person or individual who has ultimate control of the establishment. This would apply to a factory or any other institution which is regarded as an establishment. The meaning of the term occupier would not include a director of a company.
- Meaning of the Term Manufacturing Process- Under the Code, the term manufacturing process will have the same definition. This would include the same meaning of the term manufacturing process under the Factories Act and other relevant legislations related to factories.
- Meaning of Term Wages- Wages would include any form of benefits received by the worker.
Under the occupational safety code, the meaning of wages will include the following:
- Any form of Bonus which is defined under the relevant statute
- House Rent Allowance or Any Statutory Allowance which would apply to a property.
- Transport Fee or Any Conveyance Fee as prescribed by a law or statute
- Any form of allowance that falls under the category of overtime allowance
- Other benefits as defined under the respective statute
- Meaning of the Term Building and Construction- The terms Building and Construction would include any form of building or construction which does not have the meaning under the factories act. This will include any form of building which is in the phase of development.
- Meaning of the Term Government- Under the Occupational Safety Code, the meaning of Government would include the appropriate Central Government and State Government under the respective laws.
What are the Salient Features of the Occupational Safety Code, 2020?
With a view of ease of compliance, the Central Government brought out the code.
The following are the salient features of the code:
- Registration of Institutions and Establishments- Under the code all forms of institutions and establishments which are operated at Central level must compulsorily obtain a single registration within 60 days from the applicability of the code. Hence if the code, is applicable from 28 September 2020, then all establishments whether newly formed or already present must comply with the relevant norms of the code.
This would not apply to any form of institution or establishment which is already registered under any respective central government legislature or respective labour law code.
Apart from this, if there are any forms of material adverse changes in the management or shareholders of the establishment, then such change must be intimated electronically. The registering officer must carry out these changes within 30 days of the change taking place.
When it comes to closure of the establishment or the premises, the occupational safety code has a protocol for electronic intimation of the closure of the establishment. The closure of the establishment must be intimated electronically within 30 days of the closure. Apart from this the establishment must also ensure that all workers are paid as per the requirement of the law or statute in force.
Once this step is carried out the officer must ensure that the application for cancellation for registration of the establishment is carried out within 60 days.
- Requirement of Deemed Approval- Another benefit of the code was adding the requirement of deemed approval for any form of registration or cancellation, in case there is a delay by the respective government officer or the registration officer. Due to this system, companies and employers can be deemed to be registered if an application if filed under this system. This also makes it a full proof system to keep the system intact and checks can be made on unnecessary delays by the authorities.
- Non Compliance with Registration- If any employer or establishment as defined under this code, does not comply with the provisions of the code, then the employer would not be allowed to operate. Non-operation of the establishment or employer will include no employment of any employee or workman under this code. Hence, the occupational safety code will benefit the government authorities as all employers coming under this definition would be deemed to comply with the relevant criteria of the code.
- Factories Licenses- The code has revamped the system for factories by introducing a two step process of registration. This would apply to factories which employ more than 20 workers. Under the 2019 code, the requirement of registration would only be applicable to factories and establishments which have 10 or more workers. All factories and establishments would be required to obtain a common license.
This would apply to the following establishments:
- Factory, industrial premises for beedi and cigar work; and
- Any other factory or establishment that employs contract labour.
Under this system, an application for a single license can also be made. Another benefit of this system is that the application process for the common license and the single license can be made electronically. This application has to be made electronically.
- Contractors Licensing Provisions- Licensing provisions under the occupational safety code, 2020 have also been introduced for contractors who work for specific intervals of time.
- Working Hours (Daily Weekly and Annual Working Hours)- The working hours which are followed under the 2020 code has been reduced to 8 hours when compared to the factories act which made it mandatory to work for 9 hours. Apart from this, the daily working hours for any form of establishment under this code should not exceed 8 hours per day. In the working hours, workers are required to have regular break periods. Apart from this, the code also requires establishments to give one day in a week off.
- Requirement of Annual Leave- For calculating the qualifying condition for annual leave, the amount of days that a worker has worked in a year is taken. Previously 240 days was considered under the factories act. This has been amended to 180 days under the occupational safety code.
- Working of Women- Under the Occupational Safety Code, women are allowed to be employed and work before 6 am and after 7 pm in a day. However, their respective consent to work at the above time has to be taken. Apart from this, the employer has to comply with the additional safeguards which include improving the safety, health and holidays of women employed in an establishment.
- Contract Labour- The occupational safety code has brought about special provisions related to contract labour in an establishment. This would be applicable to establishments which employ more than 50% of contract labour. This labour has to be employed in the preceding 12 months in the establishment.
- Inter-State Migrant Workers- The provisions of the code would be applicable to interstate migrant workers to be registered under the respective act. Under this provision, inter-state migrant workers are allowed to be employed by the establishment. Any worker under this system would receive the benefits which are deemed under the state registration. Migrants coming from other states would be recognised under this code.
- Workers in Cinema- This code has identified workers working in Cinema and other institutions that provide entertainment to the general public. Benefits under this code are extended to workers.
- Journalists- Under the occupational Safety code, employees such as journalists are recognised. This would include individuals who are appointed to carry out print media in the form of any electronic device or media.
Penalties under the Occupational Safety Code, 2020
Unlike the previous legislations, the Occupational Safety Code 2020 has increased the penalties for non compliance of the provisions of the code. Such penalties if conducted would add some form of deterrence value to the penalty, so that such an offence is not carried out.
The Code on Occupational Health was brought out by the Central Government in September 2020. With a view to amend legislations, this code was brought out to revamp the system related to labour law compliance. This code not only merged different forms of labour legislations, but it improved the standards of overall compliance for establishments and industries. Apart from this, the system of deemed approval has been introduced to counter the effects of delay be government authorities. Hence the above code has overall improved the standards for occupational, safety and health compliance for an organisation.
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