Occupational Safety, Health, And Working Conditions Code, 2020
This post is written by Vismitha S studying BBA LLB at SASTRA University.
The Ministry of State for Labour and Employment implemented the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 (OSHWC) in Lok Sabha. With recent developments leading after the withdrawal of the 2019 Occupational Safety, Health, and Working Conditions Code, it has been reintroduced.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CODE
- One of the objectives of the code is to provide flexibility in the adaptation of technological developments and complex factors to the health, safety, welfare, and working conditions of workers.
- Provisions of the proposed Code must be applied for all establishments having ten or more workers, other than the establishments relating to mines and docks.
- The code sets the employer’s responsibility for providing facilities such as ventilation, drinking water, proper lighting, crèche for female employees with a 6-year-old child, proper clean washrooms.
- The workmen engaged in the plant to be provided with the proper residential facility. The canteen also has a minimum of 100 workers working ( the limit has been reduced to 100 from 250). Female workers can work beyond 7 pm till 6 am if provided with proper and safe conditions.
- The National Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board to give recommendations to the Central Government on policy matters, relating to occupational safety, health, and working conditions of workers;
- There shall be a State Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board at the State level to advice the State Government on such matters arising out of the administration of the proposed Code;
- Provision for the formation by the appropriate government of a safety committee in any establishment or class of establishments;
- The Code has made the maximum registration process to be initiated electronically and hence a minimum of physical contact exists.
- Primary definitions of terms such as an establishment’s wages, banking company, and core activity have been added.
- Contrary to earlier provisions women workers are entitled to be employed in all establishments for all types of work including hazardous processes subject to the conditions that the government may require the employer to provide adequate safeguards prior to their employment in hazardous or dangerous operations.
- In the light of Covid-19, the Central Government reserved its power to control the general safety and health of individuals in the event of an epidemic, pandemic, or disaster being declared. For the time being, this must not be changed by any other laws in force.
- Workers / Employees are entitled to receive overtime amount at the rate of twice the wage.
- Employers are required to ensure the disposal of hazardous and toxic waste including e-waste.
- Workers are not allowed to work for more than 6 days a week and are entitled to one day off for every 20 days of work and one day off per week.
Special work hours and leave conditions are listed for employees working in transportation, sales promotion, and journalism.
Employers in the construction industry, if there is a chance of an accident, should not hire workers with impaired vision, deafness, or a propensity to giddiness.
In considering whether it gives power to either side, elaborative provisions relating to inter-state migrant workers, plantation employers, and contractors’ liabilities have been implemented.
The Central Government shall set up a National Advisory Board on Occupational Safety and Health to carry out the functions bestowed upon it by or under this Code, which shall advise the Central Government on matters relating to the standards, rules, and regulations to be laid down under this Code. The State Government shall also create an agency to be referred to as the State Advisory Board on Occupational Safety and Health, which shall, in turn, prescribe to the State Government the various guidelines relating to the act. Under this code, civil courts are not permitted to resolve matters; instead, the aggrieved person is expected to file a writ petition to the Supreme Court.
OFFENCES AND PENALTIES
- Obstructing discharge of duties of Inspector, imprisonment up to 3 months & fine up to INR 1 lakh
- An offence that leads to the death of an employee will be punishable with imprisonment of up to two years, or fine up to INR 5 lakhs, or both.
- Where the penalty is not specified, the employer will be punished with a fine between INR 2 – 3 lakhs.
- If an employee violates provisions of the Code, a fine up to Rs 10,000.
- Offences committed by a Company shall hold each person liable who, at the time the offence was committed, was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company.