Rationalising the Laws Governing Wages

Provisions under the ILO Conventions seek to fulfill the ends of labour welfare, to preserve the essence of social security and achieve a certain uniformity in respect to labour and laws regarding payment as well as fixation of wages i.e. wage security. Studies show that the wage regulations in India do not measure up to the standards adopted in peer countries and in some respect fall short of the recommendations in ILO Conventions. In this paper, we undertake an evaluation of the different laws governing wages in India, identify certain shortcomings and attempt to offer suggestions for improvement of the same.
Along with other shortcomings, in the different enactments that are in force in India with respect to wages, definitions have been provided for ‘wages’ differently in each. This has led to widespread confusion and difficulty in adjudication of cases in Labour Courts. As part of labour reforms, the Government has undertaken the exercise of rationalization of the 38 Labour Acts by framing fourlabour codes viz. Code on Wages, Code on Industrial Relations, Code on Social Security and Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions. With respect to the difficulties faced by Labor Courts because of the varying definitions of ‘wages’ in different enactments, the Code on Wages Bill 2017 has been introduced in Lok Sabha.
This paper shall attempt to look further into the Bill and the effects of this Bill being passed. Upon enactment of the Code 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1948; the Payment of Wages Act, 1936; the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965; and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 will get repealed. This would remove the multiplicity of definitions and authorities leading to ease of compliance without compromising the principles of wage and social security to the workers.
Key Words: ILO (International Labour Organization), Labour welfare, Wage security, Social security, Rationalizing wages