On Tuesday, the lower house of the Parliament passed the Wage Code Bill which will allow the central government to fix minimum statutory wage for the whole country and is expected to benefit 50 crore workers.
Calling it a "historic step," Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar said the Wages Code Bill 2019 aims to consolidate and amend existing laws on wages and bonus and related matters. Once the bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha, it will become a law, wherein, "minimum wage would become a right of every worker," he said.
The opposition, however, pointed out that the bill did not have "anything new".
The bill was passed by voice notes and will subsume four labour laws-Minimum Wages Act, Payment of Wages Act, Payment of Bonus Act and Equal Remuneration Act, on enactment. Two of these date back to 1936 and 1948.
While it aims to make provisions for a national mandatory minimum wage, it fails to prescribe a figure. Gangwar said that a tripartite committee comprising representatives of trade unions, employers and state government would be set to fix a floor wage for workers across the country.
He also informed the Lok Sabha the Bill's mandate to address the problems relating to delay in payment of wages whether on monthly, weekly or daily basis.
It also aims to rationalize the number of wage types from around 2,000 categories to around 200. Definitions of wages were also simplified. These changes were made in favour of employers as it will help reduce litigation and compliance cost.