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  • Writer's pictureRitik Agrawal

EMPOWERING THE WORKFORCE: UNDERSTANDING CONSTITUTION PROVISIONS RELATED TO LABOR LAW

Updated: Jan 16

Author: Deepa Sharma,

IOL, Jiwaji University


INTRODUCTION

In the intricate tapestry of a nation's legal framework, the labor laws are the threads that bind the workforce, ensuring their rights, dignity, and fair treatment. In democratic countries such as India, the constitution is crucial in drafting labor laws that protect the rights of millions of workers. This blog explores the Indian Constitution's labor laws provisions, highlighting the ways in which the labour is empowered by these rules.

MEANING

The legal guidelines that control how companies and employees interact are referred to as labor law. Employment contracts, working conditions, pay, and employee rights are some of the topics it covers.

It helps in protecting the right of labor, their union, their wages, and moreover, building a link between government and workers.

It is a protective code for labourers, workers, and employees to make them aware of their rights and to establish a standard law regarding labor work practice.

Labor law is often incorrectly confused with employment law.[i] However, employment law is the area of law that specifically deals with the relationship between an employer and employee.

Labour law is mainly related to the matter of labor relations, functions of trade unions, an adequate working environment, strikes, and the security of the labor.

DEFINITION

‘’Labour" refers to people who work for a living in the context of labor law, typically as employees in a variety of industries and occupations.

Labor refers to the physical or mental effort exerted by individuals in the process of work. It includes tasks, activities, and skills performed to produce goods or services.[ii]

CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS WITH REGARD TO LABOUR LAW

Chapters III and IV of the Constitution of India enshrine the relevance of the dignity of human labor and the need to protect and safeguard the interests of labor as a human being by keeping in line with the fundamental rights and Directive Principles of State Policy [DPSP’s].

Labor is a concurrent subject under the Indian Constitution, which means both the union and the state government are qualified to legislate and administer labor matters.

The parliament has enacted the majority of important legislative acts for labor.

  • Right to Equality (Article 14-18)

Every citizen in India is treated equally before the law thanks to the right to equality, which is the basis of Indian democracy. This clause, which forbids discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, caste, or creed, forms the cornerstone of labor regulations. Equal chances and pay for equal labor are guaranteed in the workplace, promoting a fair and welcoming workplace culture.[iii]

  • Article 19: The Right to Freedom

The right to move freely throughout India's territory is guaranteed by Article 19. This privilege is essential for the labor force since it gives them the freedom to look for jobs anywhere in the country without being restricted. This freedom also includes the ability to create groups or unions, giving employees the ability to collectively bargain for their rights and wellbeing.[iv]

  • Articles 23–24: The Right Against Exploitation

Articles 23 and 24 forbid forced labor, child labor, and hiring anybody under the age of 14 in dangerous jobs. These clauses play a crucial role in ending abusive labor practices by guaranteeing that the workforce, especially weaker groups like minors, is shielded from both physical and psychological exploitation.[v]

  • Articles 39–41: Directive Principles of State Policy

The state's obligation to uphold social and economic fairness is enshrined in the Directive Principles of State Policy. The state is required by Articles 39(e) and 39(f) to provide workers with appropriate means of subsistence and to guarantee that men and women have an equal right to an adequate standard of living. This clause acts as a template for creating labor regulations that support job security, just compensation, and respectable working conditions.[vi]

  • Article 21A: Right to Education

While not directly related to labor, the Right to Education Act (Article 21A) plays a crucial role in shaping the future workforce. By ensuring that every child receives a quality education, this provision equips them with the skills and knowledge necessary to secure employment, thereby contributing to the nation's workforce in the long run.[vii]

The Right to Education Act (Article 21A), while not directly related to labor, is significant in determining the makeup of the future labor force. This provision makes sure that every kid obtains a quality education, which gives them the abilities and information required to find job and, ultimately, contribute to the workforce of the country.

  • Article 41-43: Right to Social Security

The right to social security, as enshrined in Articles 41–43, emphasizes the state's responsibility to provide social assistance to workers in cases of old age, sickness, and disability. These provisions form the basis for various social security schemes and labor welfare programs, ensuring that workers are not left vulnerable during challenging times.[viii]

In Articles 41–43, the right to social security highlights the state's obligation to provide employees with social support in the event of old age, illness, or incapacity. These clauses serve as the cornerstone of numerous social security plans and labor welfare initiatives, guaranteeing that workers are protected from vulnerability in trying times.

  • Article 32: Right to Constitutional Remedies

Article 32 empowers citizens to approach the Supreme Court for the enforcement of their fundamental rights. This provision acts as a safeguard, allowing workers to seek legal recourse in case their labor rights are violated. It serves as a deterrent against unjust labor practices, promoting a fair and equitable work environment.[ix]

Citizens have the right to apply to the Supreme Court for the enforcement of their fundamental rights under Article 32. In the event that their labor rights are violated, workers may seek legal redress thanks to this clause, which serves as a safeguard. It promotes a just and equal workplace by acting as a deterrent to unfair labour practices.

CHALLENGES

While India’s labor laws have evolved significantly, challenges persist. Informal labor sectors, gender disparities, and issues related to contract and gig workers are areas that need focused attention.[x] Strengthening enforcement mechanisms, promoting skill development, and ensuring comprehensive social security measures are essential steps for the government and stakeholders to take.

CONCLUSION

India's labor regulations are enshrined in its constitution, which is evidence of the country's dedication to worker empowerment. A fair and prosperous work force is built around the values of equality, freedom, social justice, and education, all of which are upheld by these regulations. These constitutional protections will be crucial in determining how work is shaped in India going forward, as they guarantee the rights and dignity of all workers and promote an inclusive and forward-thinking society.

The constitutional provisions related to labor laws in India stand as a testament to the nation's commitment to empowering its workforce. By upholding principles of equality, freedom, social justice, and education, these provisions create a strong foundation for a just and thriving labor force. As India continues to evolve, these constitutional safeguards will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of work, ensuring that the rights and dignity of every worker are upheld, thus fostering a truly inclusive and progressive society.


REFERENCES [i] Srijan Pateriya & Harsha Sahu, A Brief Study on Challenges Concerning Labor Laws In India, 45 J. 160, 164 (2022), https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.20523465.v1. [ii] Prerna Hunagund, Labour Laws and Its Applicability, TaxGuru, https://taxguru.in/corporate-law/labour-laws-applicability.html [iii] Articles 14-18, Fundamental Rights, Part III, Constitution of India [iv] Article 19, Fundamental Rights: Right to Freedom, Part III, Constitution of India [v] Articles 23–24, Fundamental Rights: The Right Against Exploitation, Part III, Constitution of India [vi] Articles 39–41, Fundamental Rights: Directive Principles of State Policy, Part IV, Constitution of India [vii] Article 21A, Fundamental Rights: Right to Freedom: Right to Education, Part III, Constitution of India [viii] Article 41-43, Fundamental Rights: Directive Principles of State Policy, Part IV, Constitution of India [ix] Article 32, Fundamental Rights: Right to Constitutional Remedies, Part III, Constitution of India [x] Richard James Mitchell, Petra Mahy & Peter G. Gahan, The Evolution of Labour Law in India: An Overview and Commentary on Regulatory Objectives and Development (July 23, 2013), Workplace and Corporate Law Research Group, Department of Business Law and Taxation, Monash University, Working Paper No. 18, https://ssrn.com/abstract=2297160 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2297160.

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