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Analysis of Industrial Relations Code, 2020


Industrial Relations Codes of 2020

The year 2020 brought unprecedented challenges to the world of work, with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting economies and labour markets on a global scale. In this context, the Industrial Relations Codes of 2020 emerged as a crucial set of guidelines and regulations for employers and employees alike.


At its core, the Industrial Relations Codes of 2020 represent a significant shift in the way we understand the relationship between workers and their employers. By providing a comprehensive framework for employment practices, these codes seek to balance the needs of both parties, fostering a culture of mutual respect, cooperation, and productivity.


From the establishment of minimum wages and working hours to the recognition of workers' rights and entitlements, the Industrial Relations Codes of 2020 represent a landmark achievement in the quest for fair and equitable labour practices. They reflect a deep understanding of the complex interplay between economic, social, and cultural factors that shape the world of work, and offer a roadmap for building a more just and sustainable future.


The Industrial Relations Codes of 2020 represent a triumph of collaboration and consensus-building. Drawing on the insights of workers, employers, and policymakers alike, they reflect a shared commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable society. At a time when the world faces so many challenges, from rising inequality to climate change, the Industrial Relations Codes of 2020 offer a glimmer of hope - a reminder that when we work together, we can achieve great things.


All about the new Industrial Relations Code, 2020

Three important legislations under labour law—the ‘Industrial Disputes Act of 1947’, the ‘Trade Unions Act of 1926’, and the ‘Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act of 1946’; have been combined and replaced by the Industrial Relations code. The legislature's goal in enacting these labour reforms was to give the new labour regime flexibility and regulate trade unions, collective bargaining, and strikes. The Second Labour Commission (1999) recommended and brought four laws that aim to foster a positive working environment between employers and employees, including

  1. Code on Wages;

  2. Social Security Code;

  3. Industrial Relations Code; and

  4. OSH Code (Occupational Safety and Health)


When the lockdown happened in the whole country, the situation for the labour class got worse quickly because they had no work. Some of them went back to their hometown, but some State Governments increased their work hours. The working class suffered a lot and some had to walk back home without shoes because of the lockdown. The old labour laws are not good enough for the informal sector where most workers are employed, and they are not protected by these laws. That's why we need new laws that can cover both the formal and informal sectors.


In India, labour laws are made by both the central and state governments to benefit society. As the workforce grows, more jobs will be needed for young people, but industries may not be able to keep up with the increasing demand. The government has defined many terms in different laws, which can be confusing. For example, the word "manager" is mentioned in the definition of an employee under the Industrial Relation Code, 2020, but this term is not defined in other labour laws. The definition of a worker also includes the term "supervisor" in some laws but not in others. The government has expanded the definition of a strike under the Industrial Relation Code, of 2020 to include any collective casual leave taken by 50% or more workers in an industry. This is meant to discourage workers from taking collective casual leave that could stop an employer's work. Under the new law, workers in any type of job are required to give public notice before going on strike, not just those in public utility services as before.


The regulations under IR Code, 2020

The new Industrial Relation Code of 2020 introduces regulations related to strikes, lockouts, and industrial disputes. Under the new code, no strike or lockout is permitted when an industrial dispute is pending in a conciliation proceeding, regardless of whether it is under the Industrial Dispute Act or the Industrial Relation Code. Furthermore, there will be no strike or lockout permitted once a proceeding is pending before a tribunal for 60 days, and the result of the proceeding or award is under operation in respect of the settlement of the award.


Regarding retrenchment, lay-off, and closure in industrial establishments, the previous Industrial Disputes Act mandated that permission from the appropriate government was necessary for any action to be taken if the establishment employed less than 100 workers or if the matter was pending for 12 months. However, the Industrial Relation Code of 2020 has increased the threshold for permission from 100 to 300 workers, and any further increases are dependent on the appropriate government. This change applies only to factories, mines, and plantations and not to other industrial establishments.


The Industrial Relations Code of 2020 empowers the appropriate government to establish Industrial Tribunals and a National Industrial Tribunal to resolve disputes outlined in the Second or Third Schedule of the Industrial Dispute Act of 1947. These tribunals will consist of two members chosen by the government, one administrative and one judicial member. However, the absence of a worker representative on the tribunal is a notable omission.


The IR Code also outlines the enforceability of tribunal awards, which must be enforceable within 30 days of their completion or expiry. However, if the government believes it would be in the public interest to do so, it may defer from the award passed by the tribunal, particularly if the government is a party to the dispute or the award was passed by a National Tribunal.


Additionally, the IR Code of 2020 includes provisions for Fixed Term Employment, which would engage workers for a fixed term and provide additional compensation and benefits. However, the worker's suggestions are not considered in this provision, as it is only recommended by the employer. This form of employment is more expensive than contract labor, and the IR Code omits the protection that an employer cannot change the post of regular or permanent employment into a Fixed Term Employment. The central government's aim for a flexible labor market is clear, but it has failed to implement labor reform effectively, and the mandate has been shifted to the state governments, which has created confusion around the placement of labor laws in the Concurrent List.


Conclusion

The Industrial Relations Code of 2020 implementation cannot be considered as fully meeting the requirements of the International Labour Organization and adhering to the Tripartite Consultation Convention of 1976. The code lacks the necessary provisions for tripartite consultation between the government, employers, and employees, thereby rendering it employer-centric. Furthermore, since the workers were not consulted during the drafting process, it fails to achieve its purpose of fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between employers and employees.


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