Legislative Framework of Employee Wellbeing in India

August 6, 20205:06 pm1874 views
Legislative Framework of Employee Wellbeing in India
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Safety, health, welfare and improved working conditions are prerequisites for employee wellbeing as it can impact work relationships. Good work relationship, that goes beyond the lives of employees and their families, could ultimately affect businesses, economies and nations. That said, it is vital for business leaders to make safety, health, welfare, and good working conditions a primary concern within the workplace.

In India, health and safety occupy a very significant position which includes principles aimed at securing the health of workers and ensuring just and human work conditions. India reinforces occupational health and safety (OHS) by implementing laws relating to OHS at workplaces. 

See also: Indian Workers Most Digitally-Skilled in the World: Survey

Legislative framework

India has several laws relating to health and safety provisions, some of which have existed for more than 50 years — for example, the Factories Act, 1948; Mines Act, 1952; Dock Workers (Safety, Health and Welfare) Act, 1986; Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulations of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996; and the Contract Labor (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970. Apart from these, there are two main legislations dealing with compensation for occupational diseases and accidents, i.e., the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, and the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948. 

Despite the above legislations, at the ground level less attention has been paid to the health and needs of employees in various Indian industries. This, coupled with other factors such as changing job patterns and working relationships, makes the situation in India complex. In this regard, the Ministry of Labor and Employment has rolled out a code on occupational health, safety and working conditions that aim to simplify, amalgamate and rationalize the relevant provisions of existing labour laws relating to the health and safety of workers. 

The Government has also enacted the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, both of which define mental health illness but do not include aspects such as depression and anxiety. 

Employer obligations

Under the current labour law regime in India, different labour laws make provisions for different facilities, which are to be ensured by either the principal employer or the contractor, such as follows: 

  • Mines, plantations and building workers: provisions for drinking water, first aid, hours of work and wages for overtime work 
  • Beedi and cigar workers: provisions for ventilation, overcrowding, canteens, wages for overtime work and daycare 
  • Factory workers: provisions for protections from hazardous processes, daycare, canteens, shelters, restrooms and drinking water 
  • Contract labor: provisions for canteens, restrooms and first-aid facilities
  • Sexual harassment concerns: provisions for the protection against sexual harassment and raising complaints against sexual harassment 
  • Persons with disabilities: the 2016 Act provides a legal mandate for employers to ensure “reasonable accommodations” for conditions that are legally considered disabilities, including mental health 

Indian labour laws have also cast further obligations on employers to report instances of accidents causing death or bodily injury to the relevant authorities. Employers are required to keep workers informed of dangers and hazardous processes. By being compliant with the legislative, businesses wellbeing in India could improve, which in turn, improves the nation’s economy as well.

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