After 41 years, the Center will establish the redefinition of “migrant workers” | India News
The new measures, which follow the large-scale migration of thousands of thousands of workers, both in the informal and formal economies during the closure, are proposed under an updated Social Security Code that the Ministry of Labor will shortly bring to the Union Cabinet.
The Center plans to enact a law on this by the end of the year.
Labor Minister Santosh Gangwar confirmed that the legal framework was being strengthened and that some of the provisions of the proposed Code, approved by Parliament’s standing committee headed by BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, could undergo further changes.
The steps are considered crucial as the current legal framework is inadequate, something that was exposed by the exodus of migrants, with the absence of any type of employment record that caused a serious rethink in the government. The Interstate Migrant Workers Act, 1979, applies to establishments with five or more interstate migrant workers and to contractors involved in their hiring. “This will mean that most of today’s migrant workers will be outside the purview of the law,” said an official.
The proposed legal framework will apply to individual migrant workers who earn up to a specified amount, including with domestic help included in their framework. Although the maximum salary will be defined through an executive order, the law will stipulate it. These workers will enjoy the benefit of portability of benefits across the country and will be entitled to receive the fee to go home once a year, the sources told TOI.
A key element of the plan is to assign workers in the unorganized sector an Unorganized Worker Identification Number (U-WIN), which was prescribed by law in 2008 but has not advanced much. The Center now seeks to make it attractive for workers to register by delivering social security benefits such as pensions and medical care, while asking them to specify if they are migrants.
Through this exercise, it is proposed to create a national database linked to Aadhaar, which can be accessed by the Center and the states, the latter plays a crucial role in creating the registry.
While a pension plan already exists for workers in the unorganized sector, officials said a key element will be allowing them to enroll in the ESIC by paying a nominal fee, a benefit that can also be extended to those who work in units and dangerous plantations. In any case, the scope of the ESIC is being expanded to make health centers available to beneficiaries in all districts.