Growth of Labour Legislation in India

Growth of Labour Legislation in India

Law is very necessary for maintaining peace, harmony and provide direction to society for the development. This development is possible because of the growth of the industry which is totally depending on labours because they have an important role in increasing productivity and management of the nations.

Mahatma Gandhi had once said- ‘A nation may do without its millionaires and without its capitalists but a nation can never do without its labour.’

We see the constant struggle between the labour and capitalists and how capital uses them for their own benefit even not provide them basic amenities of life so because of this in India many numbers of labour laws made for promoting the condition of labours which directly deal with the development of industry and national economy. So, for the growth of the nation, the growth of labour legislation is important.

How the Labour Legislation evolved in India?

Before Independence

Labour legislation in India starts with the history of British Colonialism. Labours of India protected the interest of British employers and because of these labours, Britishers establish their supremacy in India because the Britishers were less in number and it was not possible to control whole India, established industries without taking the help of Indian labours.

The first legislative control attracts by the plantation industry in Assam where workers were recruited through professionals. And these workers were not allowed to leave the garden. Then day by day burden on Indian Labour increased because of British exploitation and by this competition to British textiles in the export market increased. So the British Parliament passed the Factories Act of 1883 to make the labour costlier just to reduce its pressure. And by this act, Indian Labour got some basic liberties like eight hours of work, child labour abolition, restriction of women in night employment, and overtime wages for extra work after eight hours. After this many acts passed in India for independence for labours such as Workmen Compensation Act 1923, Mines Act 1923, Forced Labour 1930, Payment of Wages Act 1936.

After Independence

After the Independence condition of Indian labour was worst. They were treated like property, paid less for their work, even their health issues are not considered, they were deprived of their right. And the cost of living also increased after independence in India. So these workers raised their voice against it. They formed various organizations to go on strike with unions. For the betterment of labour life finally in 1950 laws related to labour embedded in the constitution which protect their fundamental rights (Constitutional Articles concern with labours are 14,16,19,23,24,38), deal with their health issues such as Minimum Wages Act 1948, Factories Act 1948, Employees State Insurance Act 1948.

Legislation Role for Labours in Contemporary India

Our lawmakers made many efforts for the welfare of labour by making various laws and schemes. The government introduced the Code on Wages bill in 2017 and it was sent to the standing committee. Its report came on 2018 at the time of election so the bill lapsed at the end of 16th Lok Sabha. Recently Minister of Labour Mr Santosh Gangwar reintroduced the bill which was passed in parliament on 8th August and known as Code on Wages Act 2019.

What is the need for Code Wages Act, 2019?

This act provides uniformity because this act is made after replacing four wages acts:

(1) Payment of Wages Act 1936 (2) Payment of Bonus Act 1965 (3) Minimum Wage Act 1949 (4) Equal Remuneration Act 1976.

(2) Past Minimum Wages Act and Payment of Wages Act apply only to employees engaged in certain kind of job so that 60% of the workers not covered under these acts but this new act cover employees of both organised and unorganised sector means it covers entirely 50 crore workforces.

(3) Currently, 12 different labour laws defined their own “wages” definition and by this difficulty arise in its implementation. And it is also difficult for courts in their cases to decide which definition is correct. But new wage code removes multiplicity of “wage” definitions.

(4) 17 labour laws are more than 50-year-old and some belong to the pre-independence era. All these laws are obsolete and not able to fulfil the condition of today’s society.

(5) This act is made to rationalize 44 labour laws and to improve the ease of doing business in the country.

Main Provision of Code Wages Act

• This act stated that the central government will make wage-related decisions for employment such as railway, mine, oil fields and state government make provisions for other employment.

• Code stated that central government will fix the national floor wage according to living standard and skills of work of labours and state government will fix the minimum wage for their regions but that wage cannot be lower than the national floor wage set by the central government.

• Central and state government constitute central and state advisory board which consist: –

(1) Employers (2) employees (3) independent person (4) one-third of the total member on both central and state will be women.

This advisory board help in fixing of national floor wage and minimum wages of state.

• Minimum wages will be revised and reviewed by the central and state within the interval of five years.


To make four laws into one, provide uniformity in labour laws is a good step taken by the government. This act will only be able to achieve its goal if those labours are aware of their rights. In reality, it is seen that labour laws itself not solve the labour problems because workers are poor, illiterate, unaware, and they are weak in negotiating with employers. Most part of Indian Population covers with labour so to earn a livelihood they are controlled by employers’ terms and condition. So, it is the responsibility of the government to protect them by aware them with their rights and duties.

“The views of the authors are personal

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the defects in the Code Wages Act?

a) This act talks about the equal wages of men and women but there are no criteria for the recruitment of women because mostly capitalist prefers men over women for labours.

b) Labour comes under the concurrent list and different states have different criteria for minimum wages so they raise their concern.

What is Labour Legislation mean?

Labour Law is also called industrial law. It deals with employment and non-employment wages, working conditions, industrial relations, social security, labour welfare of industrially employed persons.


Bhumitra Dubey
My name is Bhumitra Dubey a student of Dharmshastra National Law University in semester 2 nd. I am pursuing B.A.LLB. as my career option. I live in Chhatarpur (M.P.). I have done my schooling from Chhatarpur. My experience at university is very enriching. I am actively involved in practical projects, get opportunities to participate in a number of curricular activities like MUN, Debate, Chai PE harcha, International Conference. My active participation in writing has taught me many skills. I was also a member of Indian edition Week as a volunteer. I have been working in RLEk (Rural Litigation Entitlement Kendra) in Dehradun as an intern. Now I got the opportunity to join in your organization to explore new dimensions and for further development of my skills.