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  • Gagan Gill

"UNDERSTANDING LABOR LAWS IN INDIA: A CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE PERSPECTIVE"

Updated: Jan 16

Author: Gagan Gill,

Chandigarh University

INTRODUCTION

Labour laws acts as a crucial aspect of protecting the workers and ensures a fair and equitable work environment therefore, also called as “employment laws”. Labour law came into picture during the 19th and 20th century. Since, then it has been an integral part of socio – economic development of a country and it protects the rights of the labourers in India. India has the world's second-largest labour force[i]. Hence, special recognition has given to the Labour laws under Constitution of India and added as a subject matter of concurrent list or List-III (Seventh Schedule) where both state and Central Government has the power to enact legislation in context of labour as directed under Entry No.22(Trade union, industrial and labour disputes.) of the Indian Constitution. However, Labour law deals with employment issues which include minimum wage, working hours, overtime pay, workplace safety, overtime pay, gratuity, compensation, provident fund, maternity leave for women workers, insurance, bonuses, equal remuneration, prohibition on employment of child.

ORIGIN OF LABOUR LAWS

In India, labour law has a more than 125-year history. Industrial Revolution also took place that drastically changed society from rural and agricultural to industrial and working class. But there were certain loopholes that were left by the industrial revolution's developments, and it was up to society to close them. Hence, to overcome these loopholes the society adopted the common instrument which is known as “Labour Laws”. Labour Law differ from ordinary legislation as they address only unique issues it includes certification of unions, labour-management relations, collective bargaining, unfair labour practises, and, most crucially, the health, safety, and favourable working conditions at the workplace which are brought up by a particular situation. The purpose of the legislation has been developed gradually with the time. Under this act, India received the first step off working hours, abolition of child labour, restriction on women to work at night, extra wages for overtime.

MEANING OF LABOUR LAW

Labour law is the body of laws, administrative rulings, and precedents which address the legal rights of, and restrictions on, working people and their organizations. In other words, it regulates the relationship between an employer or group of employers and their employees There are two broad categories of labour law. First, collective labour legislation, the relationship between the employee, the employer, and the union is referred to as the tripartite relationship. Second, individual labour law focuses on the rights of the workers at work place and under employment contracts. In India, the broad category of "Industrial Law" is most usually used to refer to labour and employment regulations.

OBJECTIVE OF LABOUR LAW

  • To Control Work Hours-The maximum number of hours per week that employers can require of their staff without receiving additional compensation is regulated by labour laws. Labour laws mandate that workers receive different pay for working different shifts.

  • Forming a Union of Workers- Workers are free to organise unions and bargain alongside their employers. A general arrangement that regulates the laws pertaining to the formation of unions is known as the National Labour Relations Board.

  • To guarantee fair pay-The lowest wage falls between the highest known labour laws. Peasants usually limit the talent to quit occupations that pay unfairly, especially in ambitious savings. The lowest salary ensures that there is a level below which employee compensation cannot decrease. It nevertheless has the potential to increase compensations because commercial landowners sometimes want their operations to pay over the minimum wage in order to attract qualified workers.

  • Promote equality of opportunity-Labour laws ensure equality by requiring employers to show equal concern for marginalised groups, to pay equally for equally hard labour, and to implement rules that restrict or eliminate underlying bias.

LABOUR LAWS AND CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

As we know, Labour law plays a vital role in protecting the rights of the labourers working in the factors or firms. On the other hand, Constitution of India also provide certain Constitutional rights. However, the aim of the makers of the Constitution was to preserve the socio- economic conditions of the workers. Thus, Constitution of India provides some rights and directive principles in order to protect the interest of the employees or workers.

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS: -

Fundamental rights deals with the Part -3 of the Indian Constitution and the following rights to the workers: -

  • Discrimination is strongly prohibited by equality before the law; it is a bad idea. Although the idea of equal protection under the law is a good one, in order to attain equality for all, the State must give people exceptional treatment in a variety of circumstances. As a result, those who are equal must be treated equally, while those who are not must be treated unfairly.[ii]

  • Forbids the State from discriminating on the basis of race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residency, or any combination of these characteristics. Under this Article, the State provides special accommodations for the disadvantaged groups.[iii]

  • It safeguards "the freedom of speech and expression, the freedom to assemble without the use of force in a public place, the freedom to form associations or unions, the freedom to practise any profession, and the freedom to engage in any vocation or business." In the field of labour law, these fundamental protections—which include minimum standard legislation—are essential. Equal protection limits the legislature's authority to pick and choose which industries must follow minimal criteria. [iv]

  • Everyone has the right to life and freedom. The concept of life has grown tremendously broad. The term "personal liberty" has been given a very broad amplitude and encompasses a wide range of rights that contribute to a citizen's personal liberty. [v]

  • The prohibitions under Article 23 include the use of forced labour and human trafficking. It declares that any infringement of this prohibition is subject to legal repercussions. It further indicates that beggar, as well as other forms of forced work similar to these, is illegal. Underage workers are not permitted in factories, mines, or other hazardous occupations, according to Article 24.[vi]

  • Apart from above mentioned rights other fundamental rights are also available like Right to have safety equipment, right to clean and good environment, right to clean and good environment and so on.

DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY

It deals with the Part -4 of the India Constitution. In particular, the Directive principle of state policy provides the below given Articles which deals with the labour law and these articles are known as “Cornerstone of Industrial Law”. In accordance with the eco-political conditions of the countries, its responsibility of the Union and State government to provide the social order and living wages to the workers or employees.

The State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting. This directive principle states the Preamble of the Constitution's assertion that the Republic's role is to uphold social fairness. The State shall, in particular, work to reduce income disparities and make efforts to eradicate disparities in status, resources, and opportunities, not only between individuals but also between groups of persons who reside in different places or pursue various professions.[vii]

The main goal of this Article is to ensure that the people or citizens of India have appropriate means of livelihood, that wealth is distributed fairly, that equal pay is given for equal effort, and that children and workers are protected.[viii]

To guarantee the right to labour, education, and public support in circumstances of unemployment, old age, sickness, or disability.[ix]

Obliges the government to offer maternity leave as well as fair and humane working conditions.

The state shall provide the living wage and cosy working conditions Moreover, it also includes education and insurance for a person.[x]

CONCLUSION

The foundation of all laws in India is the constitution. The constitution is also followed by the labour laws which regulates the different codes like Minimum wages act , Trade Union Act , Industrial Dispute Act , The payment of Wages Act etc. , thus doing away with one of them violates the constitution. The creation of new labour legislation in India is heavily influenced by the Directive Principles of State policy.

REFERENCES

  1. Mishra, S.N. Labour and Industrial Law, (Central Law Publication,2018)

  2. Mudgal, Mr Alok Shankar, and Jayendra Singh Rathore. "A STUDY ON LABOUR LAWS: CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK." International journal of economic perspectives 17, no. 1 (2023): 130-142.

  3. “Labour Law: the history and the present”. https://blog.ipleaders.in/labour-law-history-present/ (October 5,2023). [i] https://m.thewire.in/article/labour/india-china-population-labour-force ( visited on 11 October 2023) [ii] Article-14 of the Indian Constitution [iii] Article-16 of the Indian Constitution [iv] Article -19 of the Indian Constitution [v] Article-21 of the Indian Constitution [vi] Article – 23 and 24 of the Indian Constitution [vii] Article-38 of the Indian Constitution [viii] Article -39 of the Indian Constitution [ix] Article-41 of the Indian Constitution [x] Article-42 and 43 of the Indian Constitution



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