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Labour ministry likely to get nod for workers health & safety board stakeholders

 Labour ministry is likely to win stakeholder approval for its proposals to set up a national board for the safety and health of workers and issue national licences to staffing firms.

 Trade unions and employers meeting later this week is expected to approve the proposed labour code on occupational safety, health and working conditions, after which a bill will be tabled in Parliament. “If this goes through in the first go, we will table it in the upcoming winter session of Parliament,” a senior government official told ET.

 The code aims to regulate the employment of workers, including those engaged by contractors, and their working conditions across sectors. It envisages setting up a National Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Board to advise the government on the standards, rules and regulations on worker safety, besides overseeing implementation.

 “I will call it a ‘neutral’ bill, with nothing controversial in it. In fact, by setting up a national board for workers’ safety, the employer will henceforth take care of all basic requirements of its employees and hence we would give our consent to the proposal,” said Vrijesh Upadhayay, general secretary of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh.

The board is expected to prescribe health and safety standards for workers in factories, mines docks, buildings and construction sites and other establishments. These would also pertain to physical, chemical, biological and other hazards to ensure that no employee suffers material impairment of health or functional capacity. The draft legislation for the first time provides for a national licence for staffing firms, a long-pending demand from the industry. 

“With the proposed changes in the code, the ‘licence for operating in contract staffing’ will bring ease of business for employers and promote organised employment for job seekers, proving it a win-win,” said Suchita Dutta, executive director of the India Staffing Federation.

The code provides for a national licence with a three-year validity for the staffing companies. Once implemented, they won’t need to apply for a permit for every location of operations or get the permit renewed every year.