The Ministry of Labour & Employment is one of the oldest and apex Ministries of the Government of India. The primary responsibility of the Ministry is to protect and safeguard the interests of workers in general and those who constitute the poor, deprived and disadvantaged sections of the society, in particular, with due regard to making a healthy work environment for higher production and productivity and to develop and coordinate vocational skill training and employment services. Government’s attention is also focused on the encouragement of welfare and providing social security to the labor force both in organized and unorganized sectors, in tandem with the steps of liberalization. These focuses are sought to be achieved through enactment and implementation of different labor laws, which regulate the terms and conditions of service and employment of workers. The State Governments are also competent to enact legislation, as labor is a subject in the concurrent list ambit of the Constitution of India.
Currently, there are 44 labor-related statutes enacted by the Central Government dealing with minimum wages, accidental and social security benefits, occupational safety and health, conditions of employment, disciplinary action, the formation of trade unions, industrial relations, etc.
Proper working conditions and improved quality of life of workers, ensuring India without child labor in hazardous sectors and improving employability through employment services and skill development on a sustainable basis.
Enhancing the working conditions and the quality of life of workers through laying down and implementing policies / programmes / schemes / projects for giving social security and welfare measures, regulating conditions of work, occupational health and safety of workers, avoiding child labour from hazardous occupations and processes, strengthening enforcement of labour laws and promoting skill development and employment services.
The welfare of the Unorganized Sector Workers
As per the study carried out by the National Sample Survey Organization in the year 2009-10, the total employment, in both organized and unorganized sectors in India was of the order of 46.5 crores comprising around 2.8 crores in the organized sector and the balance 43.7 crore workers in the unorganized sector. Out of 43.7 crore workers in the unorganized sector, there are 24.6 crore workers employed in the agricultural sector, about 4.4 crores in construction work and left over in manufacturing and service.
In order to ensure the welfare of workers in the unorganized sector which, inter alia, covers weavers, handloom workers, fishermen and fisherwomen, toddy tappers, leather workers, plantation labor, beedi workers, the ‘Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008’ has been enacted. As per the rules of the Act, a National Social Security Board has been constituted for recommending the formulation of social security schemes viz. Life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, old age protection and any other advantages as may be determined by the Government for unorganized workers.