A workplace should be a place where health, safety and welfare of employees are the priority of the occupier. Every employer shall ensure that workplace is free from hazards which cause or likely to cause injury or occupational disease to the employees.The establishment should be a place where employees feel safe to work and learn. To ensure that every employer will follow the standards of a safe workplace the government has enacted the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 after repealing 13 major laws such as The Factories Act 1948, The Mines Act 1952, The Working Journalists (Fixation of Rates of Wages) Act 1958, etc.
What does term “Employee” means?
“Employee” means a person employed on wages by an establishment to do any skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled, manual, operational, supervisory, managerial administrative, technical, clerical, or any other work, whether the terms of employment are express or implied. Thus, “Employee” includes workers and all other individuals earning wages for any work. However, it exempts member of the Armed Forces of the Union.
What does term “Establishment” means?
An establishment is a place where any industry, trade, business, manufacturing or occupation is carried on in which ten or more workers are employed.
What are the Obligations of the Employer?
- It is the duty of the employer to check whether the workplace is free from hazards which can cause injury or occupational disease to the employee.
- To provide annual health test free of costs to employees of such age or class as prescribed by the Government.
- To maintain a working environment which is safe and without risk to the health of the employees.
- To ensure the disposal of hazardous and toxic waste.
- To allow regular breaks to the employee to maintain a safe working environment.
- To ensure absence of risk to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances.
- To provide such information, instruction, training and supervision to the employees which are necessary for ensuring safety at work.
- To issue letter of appointment to the employees
- To ensure no charge is levied on the employee for maintenance of safety and health at workplace.
What are the rights of the Employee?
- The employee has the right to obtain information relating to employee’s health and safety at work from the employer.
- If any employee has reasonable apprehension that there is a likelihood of imminent serious personal injury or death or imminent danger to health. It is his duty to report the same to his employer.
Health, Safety and Working Conditions-
The Central Government may prescribe for providing the following necessities in the establishment-
- Adequate facilities for bathing places and lockers for male, female and transgender employees separately.
- Adequate first aid boxes or cupboards with contents readily accessible during all working hours.
- Regular check on facilities related to cleanliness and hygiene.
- Environment free from dust, noxious gas, fumes and other impurities.
- Adequate standard of humidification, artificially increasing the humidity of the air, ventilation and cooling of the air in work rooms.
- Potable drinking water.
- Adequate standards to prevent overcrowding and to provide sufficient space to employees or other persons employed therein.
- Adequate lighting.
- Sufficient arrangement for latrine and urinal accommodation to male, female and transgender employee separately and maintaining hygiene therein.
- Effective arrangements for treatment of wastes and effluents.
Welfare of Women-
- Women can be employed for all type of work in all establishment and they can also work before 6 a.m. and beyond 7 p.m. subject to the conditions relating to their safety, holidays, working hours, etc.
- The government can also take precaution or restrict the working environment of a pregnant woman in the manufacturing process.
- No employee is required to work more than eight hours in a day.
- In case of mines, workers will work below ground in the system of shifts so arranged that the period of work for each shift is not spread over more than the daily maximum hours as notified by the government.
The Government enacted the code at the right time when the workers have been treated worse during the pandemic. The code simplified several previous laws into a single law; so that no confusion is left about the right of the workers.Thus, the exploitation of innocent workers may stop.
Associate at Aggarwals & Associates, S.A.S. Nagar, Mohali