Some new developments : Labour ministry’s reform rewrite: ‘inspector’ will now be ‘facilitator’
In a quick fix solution to the ongoing debate over the “Inspector Raj” issue, the Ministry of Labour and Employment has decided to replace the term “inspector” with the term “facilitator” in a proposed legislation on wages.
In its draft Labour Code on Wages Bill, 2015, which will replace four central statutes on wages — the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 — the labour ministry has decided to use the term “facilitator” for the person who will “supply information and advice to employers and workers concerning the most effective means of complying with the provisions of the code”.
According to the draft Bill, the facilitator will also “inspect the establishment” within the local limits assigned to him.
This is the first time that the ministry is using the term facilitator. Earlier, in amendments to the Employees’ State Insurance Act in 2010, the ministry had redesignated inspectors as “social security officers”.
“The objective is to project a more friendly image to employers. The facilitator’s functions and powers are also proposed to be in keeping with this image,” said a person close to the development, pointing out that the labour ministry has been rolling out initiatives over the last one year that are aimed at being more business friendly.
While the facilitator retains the labour inspector’s power to examine workers, search and seize copies of relevant documents, the ministry, in a significant softening of stand, has proposed that instead of taking action against defaulting employers straight away, facilitators will give them a chance to comply with the provisions of the code.
“The facilitator shall, before initiation of prosecution proceedings, give an opportunity to the employer to comply with the provisions of this code by way of a written direction, which shall lay down a time period for such compliance, and if the employer complies with the direction within such period, the facilitator shall not initiate such prosecution proceedings,” says the draft Bill.
“It’s a very good provision… defaulters will be given a chance to first comply with the law and not be prosecuted straight away,” said Michael Dias, secretary of the Employers’ Association in Delhi.
The facilitators will use the centralised web-based inspection system launched by the labour ministry last year instead of going for frequent checks and inspections.
Keen to table the proposed Bill in Parliament by the end of the Budget Session, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya has held two rounds of tripartite meetings with employer and employee representatives as well as state labour departments. The ministry has also sought public comments on the Bill by April 20.