Labour disputes

“Labour Law is the body of laws, administrative rulings, and precedents which address the relationship between and among employers, employees, and labor organizations, often dealing with issues of public law”. The terms Labour Laws and Employment Laws, are often interchanged in the usage. This has led to a big confusion as to their meanings. Labour Laws are different from employment laws which deal only with employment contracts and issues regarding employment and workplace discrimination and other private law issues.

Employment Laws cover broader area than labour laws in the sense that employment laws cover all the areas of employer/employee relationship except the negotiation process covered by labour law and collective bargaining. Labour Laws harmonize many angles of the relationship between trade unions, employers and employees. In some countries (like Canada), employment laws related to unionised workplaces are different from those relating to particular individuals. In most countries however, no such distinction is made. The final goal of labour law is to bring both the employer and the employee on the same level, thereby mitigating the differences between the two ever-warring groups.

Labour Laws can be classified into the following eight categories:
Laws related to Industrial Relations
Laws related to Wages
Laws related to Specific Industries Laws related to Equality and Empowerment of Women
Laws related to Deprived and Disadvantaged Sections of the Society
Laws related to Social Security
Laws related to Employment & Training

Labour Policy Highlights
Creative measures to attract public and private investment.
Creating new jobs
New Social security schemes for workers in the unorganised sector.
Social security cards for workers.
Unified and beneficial management of funds of Welfare Boards.
Reprioritization of allocation of funds to benefit vulnerable workers.
Long term settlements based on productivity.
Vital industries and establishments declared as `public utilities`.
Special conciliation mechanism for projects with investments of Rs.150 crores or more.
Industrial Relations committees in more sectors.
Labour Law reforms in tune with the times. Empowered body of experts to suggest required changes.
Statutory amendments for expediting and streamlining the mechanism of Labour Judiciary.
Amendments to Industrial Disputes Act in tune with the times.
Efficient functioning of Labour Department.
More labour sectors under Minimum Wages Act.
Child labour act to be aggressively enforced.
Joint cell of labour department and industries department to study changes in laws and rules.

Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986

In India, there are a number of Acts which prohibit the employment of children below 14 years and 15 years in certain specified employments. However, there is no procedure laid down in any law for deciding in which employments, occupations or processes the employment of children should be prohibited. There is also no law to regulate the working conditions of children in most of the employments where they are not banned from working and are working under extremely shady and questionable conditions.

Objectives of Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986

Ban the employment of children, i.e. those who have not completed their fourteenth year, in specified occupations and processes;

Lay down a procedure to decide modifications to the Schedule of banned occupations or processes;

Regulate the conditions of work of children in employments where they are not prohibited from working;

Lay down enhanced penalties for employment of children in violation of the provisions of this Act, and other Acts which forbid the employment of children;

To obtain uniformity in the definition of 'child' in the related laws.

Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976

Objective: The object of the Act is to provide for the abolition of bonded labour system with a view to preventing the economic and physical exploitation of the weaker Sections of the people and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Scheme of the Act

The Act consists of 27 Sections with some of the important Sections listed below:
1. Definitions
2. Act to Have Overriding Effect
3. Abolition of Bonded Labour System
4. Agreement, Custom, Etc., to be Void
5. Liability to Repay Bonded debt to Stand Extinguished
6. Property of Bonded Labourer to be freed from Mortgage, Etc.
7. Freed Bonded Labourer Not to be Evicted from Homestead, etc.
8. Creditor not to Accept Payment Against Extinguished Debt
9. Authorities Who may be Specified for Implementing the Provisions of this Act
10. Duty of District Magistrate and other officers to ensure credit
11. Duty of District Magistrate and Officers Authorised by Him
12. Vigilance Committee
13. Functions of Vigilance Committee
14. Burden of Proof
15. Punishment for Enforcement of Bonded Labour
16. Punishment for Advancement of Bonded Debt
17. Punishment for Extracting Bonded Labour under the Bonded Labour System
18. Punishment for Omission or Failure to restore possession of Property to Bonded Labourers
19. Abetment to be an Offence
20. Offences to be Tried by Executive Magistrates
21. Cognizance of Offences
22. Offences by Companies
22. Protection of Action Taken in Good Faith
23. Jurisdiction of Civil Courts Barred

Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972

Gratuity is a lump sum payment to employee when he retires or leaves service. It is basically a retirement benefit to an employee so that he can live life comfortably after retirement. However, under Gratuity Act, gratuity is payable even to an employee who resigns after completing at least 5 years of service.

In DTC Retired Employees v. Delhi Transport Corporation 2001(4) SCALE 30 = 2001 AIR SCW 2005, it was observed that gratuity is essentially a retiring benefit which as per Statute has been made applicable on voluntary resignation as well. Gratuity is reward for good, efficient and faithful service rendered for a considerable period.

Payment of Wages Act, 1936

To ensure regular and prompt payment of wages and to prevent the exploitation of a wage earner by prohibiting arbitrary fines and deductions from his wages.

In DTC Retired Employees v. Delhi Transport Corporation 2001(4) SCALE 30 = 2001 AIR SCW 2005, it was observed that gratuity is essentially a retiring benefit which as per Statute has been made applicable on voluntary resignation as well. Gratuity is reward for good, efficient and faithful service rendered for a considerable period.

Applicability of the Act Application for payment of wages to persons employed in any factory.
Not applicable to wages which average Rs 6,500 per month or more.
Wages include all remuneration, bonus, or sums payable for termination of service, but do not include house rent reimbursement, light vehicle charges, medical expenses, TA, etc.

Important provisions of the Act
Responsibility of the employer for payment of wages and fixing the wage period.
Procedures and time period in wage payment.
Payment of wages to discharged workers.
Permissible deductions from wages.
Nominations to be made by employees.
Penalties for contravention of the Act.
Equal remuneration for men and women.
Obligations and rights of employers.
Obligations and rights of employees.

The Act is to regulate payment of wages to certain class of employed persons. The main purpose of this Act is to ensure regular and timely payment of wages to the employed persons, to prevent unauthorized deductions being made from wages and arbitrary fines being imposed on the employed persons. The Act extends to the whole of India.