The Assam government on December 20 introduced 10 labour law amendment bills pertaining to private sector employees for diluting the criminal penal provisions.
Interestingly, in all the bills, which were tabled by the Labour Welfare Minister Sanjay Kishan, the state government has removed imprisonment but the amount of fine has been increased.
''The proposed amendments have been brought in to decriminalise all labour laws by bringing in civil penalties,'' the Minster said.
He further said that the rationale behind decriminalization is that imprisonment is too severe as consequence for economic offences that do not involve mala fide.
''Legal process around an offence involving imprisonment greatly increases the anxiety among employers and reduced possibility of such processes leads to improved ease of doing business'', he added.
He further noted that the criminal penalties, especially the risk of imprisonment, often unintentional offences, are a major reason for low business investment.
Commenting on the heavy fines which have been increased in the new bills, the minister said that the heavy fines will force employers to have watertight internal organisational and operational mechanisms to ensure that there are no lapses in compliance.
"This will relieve employers from fear of imprisonment while protecting the rights of the workers," the labour minister said.
The tabled bills are The Minimum Wages (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022, The Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022, The Plantations Labour (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022 and The Industrial Disputes (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022. Kishan also tabled The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022, The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022 and The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022. The Equal Remuneration (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022, The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service) (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022 and The Payment of Gratuity (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022 were also introduced in the House.
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