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COMPARING THE SOCIAL SECURITY OF WORKERS IN INDIA WITH INTERNATIONAL LABOUR STANDARDS

BONDED LABOUR

INTRODUCTION

Providing Social Security to workers ensures that they are protected against any kind of risk and that they are provided with other benefits apart from their wages and remuneration. It is a human right that provides workers with the right to social welfare benefits and assistance for those who are not in a position to work because of any kind of disability, sickness, etc. It also gives workers the right to have maternity leaves, retirement benefits, and other supplemental benefits. The aim of providing social security is to support workers, improve their standards of living, and ensure their welfare and growth.

In India, the social security of workers is presently governed by the Code on Social Security, 2020.[1] The code amalgamates multiple laws relating to social security into one law in the form of the Social Security Code. While talking about international labour standards, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has made different conventions and recommendations that provide for best practices followed across the globe relating to the social security of workers and aim to set an international standard for the same. For example, the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102)[2] (hereinafter referred to as Convention No. 102) provided for a minimum standard of benefits that should be provided to any worker and divided it into nine categories, which are medical care, sickness, unemployment, old age, employment injury, family, maternity, invalidity, and survivors’ benefits.[3] Other important conventions related to social security are the Maintenance of Social Security Rights Convention, 1982 (No. 157)[4], the Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202)[5], etc.

INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS AND PRACTISES FOLLOWED IN INDIA:

MEDICAL CARE BENEFITS

Part II of Convention No. 102[6] provides for provisions relating to medical Care, which state that every member who is governed under this convention shall have the right to get medical care benefits, and it also includes persons with disabilities and pregnant women. Further, the provisions of the said Convention provide general practitioner care, hospitalisation, supply of medicines, etc. in case of morbid conditions and prenatal and postnatal care during pregnancy.[7] In India, Section 39 of the Code on Social Security provides that an insured person or his family members require medical care, they are entitled to the same.[8] Further, such a benefit may be given in the form of treatment at any hospital or clinic or at the home of such a person.

Sickness Benefits

Part III of Convention No. 102 provides for sickness benefits to the workers, wherein they are entitled to periodic payment of their wages, which should be at least 45 percent of the reference wages.[9] In India, Section 32 of the Code[10] provides that any insured person is entitled to periodic payment in case of sickness, and he proves the same by providing a medical certificate that is duly signed by the medical practitioner. Further Sub-clause f of the section provides for funeral expenses, where it states that funeral expenses are to be paid to the eldest member of the insured person’s family or to any other person who has incurred such expenses.[11]

Unemployment Benefits

It is provided under Part IV of the Convention No. 102[12] which states that employment benefit could be availed of by a person who is unable to obtain sustainable employment even though he possesses the requisite capabilities for work. In India, though there is no express provision providing unemployment benefits, however, Section 2(78) of the Code[13] provides the definition of Social Security, wherein unemployment is covered as one of the categories.

Old-age Benefits

It is provided under Part V of Convention No. 102[14] where it states that old-age benefits should be given to workers and sets the retirement age of not more than 65 years of age or above. In India, Section 2(70) of the Code states the definition of retirement as termination of service by the employee after reaching the prescribed retirement age.[15] Apart from this, there are other laws which provide for the same. For e.g., the Employees’ Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952[16], provides for benefits a retiring person could avail of such as pension or other benefits.

Employment Injury Benefits

It is provided under Part VI of Convention No. 102, where it provides benefits and medical care to a person who was injured during the course of employment.[17] Further, it also provides for periodic payment of not less than 50 percent of the corresponding payment in case it has led to incapacity to work. It includes a morbid condition, incapacity to work, and loss of benefit suffered by a widow or her child when the breadwinner of their family dies due to injury which occurred during employment.[18] In India, Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948[19] governs the same, under which a compulsory insurance scheme is introduced that includes sickness benefits, maternity benefits, disablement benefits, medical benefits, etc. The act is applicable in all states and governs factories and establishments where 10 or more workers are employed.[20]

Family and Maternity Benefits

The same is covered under Part VII[21] and VIII of Convention No. 102[22], respectively. Article 42 of the said convention provides that family benefits can be availed of by the employees, wherein they are entitled to get a periodical payment after completing the prescribed qualifying period, or in respect of children, of food, clothing, housing, holidays or domestic help. [23] Further, Article 49[24] states the benefits that could be availed during maternity, which are to get pre-natal or post-natal care by a qualified medical practitioner or hospitalization, whichever is necessary, and to get periodical payment during such a period. In India, Chapter XI of the Code[25] and the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961[26] govern the same. Wherein Section 59 of the Code[27] establishes that no woman is entitled to work during the six weeks immediately following the day of her delivery, miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy and the maximum duration can be of 26 weeks, wherein not more than 8 weeks can precede the date of pregnancy. Further, no deduction from the normal wages could be done for women availing maternity benefits.[28]

Invalidity and Survivors Benefit

The same is provided under Part IX[29] and X of Convention No. 102[30], respectively. While invalidity benefits are provided to workers unable to work or engage themselves ineffective work because of a permanent inability. Survivors’ Benefits[31] are provided to those who have suffered the loss of the breadwinner of their family, i.e., the widow and her children. In India, the same is governed under the Employees State Insurance Act[32] and Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act[33].

Conclusion

As we could see, India has inculcated many of the provisions and principles of different conventions and recommendations relating to the social security of employees passed by the International Labour Organization[34]. The same could be seen in India through different acts and rules such as the Code on Social Security[35], the Employees State Insurance Act[36], the Maternity Benefit Act[37], etc. However, there are still many loopholes in labour laws in India, e.g., most of the unorganized sector workers are not able to avail of such benefits, there is a lack of awareness among workers about their rights, etc. Therefore, there is still a long way to go to strengthen our labour laws, but with effective implementation of the present laws and with awareness among employees, the same could be achieved.

Author(s) Name: Karnika Solanki (Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad)

References:

[1] The Code on Social Security, 2020, No. 36, Act of Parliament, 2020 (India)

[2] Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, June 4, 1952, No. 102, ILO

[3] INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANISATION, https://www.ilo.org/global/standards/subjects-covered-by-international-labour-standards/social-security/lang–en/index.htm (last visited April 10, 2023)

[4] Social Security and the Maintenance of Social Security Rights Convention, June 2, 1982, No. 157, ILO

[5] Social Protection Floors Recommendation, May 30, 2012, No. 202, ILO

[6] Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, Supra Note 2

[7] Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, Art. 10, June 4, 1952, No. 102, ILO

[8] The Code on Social Security, 2020, Section 39, No. 36, Acts of Parliament, 2020 (India)

[9] Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, Supra Note 2

[10] The Code on Social Security, 2020, Section 32, No. 36, Acts of Parliament, 2020 (India)

[11] Id.

[12] Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, Supra Note 2

[13] The Code on Social Security, 2020, Section 2, No. 36, Acts of Parliament, 2020 (India)

[14] Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, Supra Note 2

[15] Code on Social Security, Supra note 13

[16] Employees’ Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, No. 19, Acts of Parliament, 1952 (India)

[17] Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, Supra Note 2

[18] Id.

[19] Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948, No. 34, Act of Parliament, 1948 (India)

[20] India Gov.in., https://www.india.gov.in/spotlight/employees-state-insurance-scheme#tab=tab-1, (last visited April 22, 2023)

[21] Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, Part VII, June 4, 1952, No. 102, ILO

[22] Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, Part VIII June 4, 1952, No. 102, ILO

[23] Id.

[24] Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, Art. 49, June 4, 1952, No. 102, ILO

[25] The Code on Social Security, Supra note 1

[26] Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, No. 53, Act of Parliament, 1961 (India)

[27] The Code on Social Security, 2020, Section 59, No. 36, Acts of Parliament, 2020 (India)

[28] Id.

[29] Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, Part IX, June 4, 1952, No. 102, ILO

[30] Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, Part X, June 4, 1952, No. 102, ILO

[31] Id.

[32] Employees State Insurance Act, Supra note 19

[33] Employees’ Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, Supra note 16

[34] Interntional Labour Organization, https://www.ilo.org/global/lang–en/index.htm, (last visited April 22, 2023)

[35] The Code on Social Security, Supra note 1

[36] Employees State Insurance Act, Supra note 19

[37] Maternity Benefit Act, Supra Note 26