Social security legislations in India

Social Security Legislations in IndiaSocial Security for employees is a concept which over time has gained importance in the industrialized countries. Broadly, it can be defined as measures providing protection to working class against contingencies like retirement, resignation, retrenchment, maternity, old age, unemployment, death, disablement and other similar conditions.

With reference to India, the Constitution levies responsibility on the State to provide social security to citizens of the country. The State, here, discharges duty as an agent of the society in order to help those who are in adverse situations or otherwise needs protection owing to above mentioned contingencies. Article 41, 42 and 43 of the Constitution do talk about the same. Also, the Concurrent List of the Constitution of India mentions issues like-

  • Social Security and insurance, employment and unemployment.
  • Welfare of Labour including conditions of work, provident funds, employers' liability, workmen's compensation, invalidity and old age pension and maternity benefits.


Drawing from the Constitution of India and ILO Convention on Social Security1 (ratified by India in 1964), some of the legislations that have been enacted for social security are Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948, Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923, Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, etc. A social security division has also been set up under the Ministry of Labour and Employment which mainly focuses on framing policies for social security for the workers of organized sector.

Apart from above mentioned enactments, since the last decade the government has initialized efforts to extend the benefits to the unorganized sector too. Legislative enactments like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, Unorganized Sector Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008 and the Domestic Workers (Registration, social security and welfare) Act, 2008 are examples of the same.

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 aim at curbing unemployment or unproductive employment in rural areas. It focuses on enhancing livelihood security to rural people, as it guarantees productive wage employment for at least 100 days in a year. The Fiscal budget, this year, has also hiked the allocation to its job guarantee scheme NREGA by 144% and also the beneficiaries under the scheme would, henceforth, be entitled for a minimum wage of Rs. 100 per day.2

Also, there is Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008, which targets at extending social security measures to unorganized sector workers. The law thereby aims at extending to workers in informal sector status and benefits similar to that of formal sector workers.

On the same lines, Domestic Workers Act, 2008 has also been enacted. The legislation aims at regulating payment and working conditions of domestic workers and entitles every registered domestic worker to receive pension, maternity benefits and paid leave that is a paid weekly off.

These legislations for organized and unorganized sector workers need to be bestowed attention because this will help improve their productivity and industrial relations and thus ensure development of the country.

 

- Palak Lotiya (views expressed in the article are that of the author)

References:

1.Government of India, Ministry of Labour and Employment, List of International Labour Organization Conventions ratified by India. Retrieved 10thNovember, 2009 form Government of India online via access: http://labour.nic.in/ilas/convention.htm

2.Press Information Bureau, Government of India, Ministry of Rural Development, NREGA allocations hiked by 144% to Rs. 39,100 Crore and Entitlement of Rs. 100 per day for NREGA beneficiaries. Retrieved July 6, 2009, from PIB online via access:  http://pib.nic.in/release/rel_print_page1.asp?relid=49806

 

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