Article (January-2021)


Social Security Code, 2020: No-Where to go!

Ram Niwas Bairwa

Designation : -   Regional PF Commissioner (II)- Retired

Organization : -  Jaipur


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Enthusiastically, the Central Government in the name of labour reforms has managed to get 03 Bills passed, rather got stamped by both the Houses of the Parliament within 02 days. Basically four codes related to labour were proposed to replace 20 different labour laws out of which Code on Wages was already passed last year. The Social Security code, 2020 (SS Code) is most important than other codes. Other codes deal with employment, whereas the SS code deals with the survival of the labourers.

In 1973, more than a century old Criminal Procedure Code, 1898 was replaced by a new Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 which was merely a re-arrangement of Sections & Provisions and a Schedule was given therein showing old sections and new sections. Same exercise seems to have been done in this SS Code or other Codes without any Schedule showing comparison of old and new sections/provisions.

Interestingly in the history, Provident Fund law was never passed by taking initiative, instead The EPF & MP Act, 1952 was brought on the statute book by promulgating ordinances, may be it 1971 (for EFPS, 1971) or may be it 1976 (for EDLI Scheme) or may be it 1995 (For EPS, 1995) or may be it 1997 (For day one coverage of establishment and raising rate of contribution). Later, Finance Act was cleverly used to amend Labour Laws. But this time, neither the Parliamentarians bother to discuss what exactly is intended in the Codes nor any of the so called Central Labour Organization seemed worrisome about what exactly being reformed through this Social Security Code, 2020 or by other Codes. As far the Social Security Code is concerned, truly, mush thought should have been given.

For over a century, 'Social Security' is the phrase after the word "Socialism" which has widely been misused, mainly in capitalist world, even the socialist countries (including the Governments sitting in the steering); who, in the words of Shakespeare, "I have to be cruel only to be kind; thus bad begins and worse remains behind" are kind enough to favour them, hence cruel in providing social security. (It is relevant to recall- this was quoted by the then Finance Minister, Pranav Mukharjee while presenting Annual Budget for 2012-13 in the Parliament), So, there is a thin line between bad and worse and between worse and the Security (The Social Security) to able the public, specially the 50 crores of laboures represented by none, to demark between cruelty and bad;. In that way, the present Social Security code, 2020 is.

Out nine Acts proposed to be replaced; the Employment Exchange (compulsory notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959 should have been incorporated in the Industrial Relations Code, 2020 instead of this Social Security Code as SS Code does not talk about un-employment, but intent to talk about the employed only.

The Employees Compensation Act, 1923, The Maternity Benefit Act, 1965, and the payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 are fully implemented by employers. The Govt. could not even formulate any Scheme for implementation of these Acts. These Acts cannot be termed as "Social Security" but employment obligations of an employer during the employment of a person.

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