Review of Laws and Legislative Measures Affecting Women
by National Commission for Women (NCW)

No. 33 The Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970


Existing Provisions

Section 1 - Short title, extent, commencement and application - Sub-section 4) It applies -

a) to every establishment in which twenty or more workmen are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding twelve months as contract labour,

b) to every contractor who employed or who employed on any day of the preceding twelve months twenty or mor workmen - Provided - that the appropriate Government may, after giving not less than two ;months notice of its intention so to do, by notification in the Official Gazette, apply the provisions of this Act to nay establishment or contractor employing such number of workmen less than twenty as may be specified in the notification. Sub section 5) - a) it shall not apply to establishments in which work only of an intermittent or casual nature is performed. b) if a question arises whether work performed in an establishment is of an intermittent or casual nature, the appropriate Government shall decide that question after consultation with the Central Board, or, as the case may be, s State Board, and its decision shall be final. Explanation - For the purpose of this sub-section, work performed in an establishment shall not be deemed to be of an intermittent nature - i) if is was performed for more than one hundred and twenty days in the preceding twelve months, or ii) if it is of a season character and is performed for more than sixty days in a year.

Section 2: Definitions - c) 'contractor' in relation to an establishment, means a person who undertakes to produce a given result for the establishment, other than a mere supply of goods or articles of manufacture to such establishment, through contract labour or who supplies contract labour for any work of the establishment and includes a sub-contractor. d).., e)..., i)..., ii)..., iii)..., f)..., g).., i)..., ii)..., iii)..., iv)..h).., i) 'workmen' means any person employed in or in connection with the work of any establishment to do any skilled, semi-skilled manual, supervisory, technical or clerical work for hire or reward, whether the terms of employment be express or implied, but does not include any such person - A) .., B) who, being employed in a supervisory capacity drawn wages exceeding five hundred rupees per mensem or exercises, either by the nature of the duties attached to the office or by reason of the powers vested in him, functions mainly of a managerial nature; or C)..

Section 15: 1) Any person aggrieved by an order made under Section 7, section 8, section 12 or section 14 may, within thirty days from the date on which the order is communicated to him, prefer an appeal to an appellate officer who shall be a person nominated in this behalf by the appropriate Government. Provided - that the appellate officer may entertain the appeal after the expiry of the said period of thirty days, if he is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in timel 2) On receipt of an appeal under sub-section 1), the appellate officer shall after giving the appellant an opportunity of being heard dispose of the appeal as expeditiously as possible.

Section 17: Rest - rooms - 1) In every place wherein contract labour is required to halt at night in connection with the work of an establishment - a) to which this Act applies; and b) in which work requiring employment of contract labour is likely to continue for such period as maybe prescribed. These shall be provided and maintained by the contractor for the use of the contract labour such number of rest-rooms or such other suitable alternative accommodation within such time as may be prescribed. 2) The rest-rooms or the alternative accommodation to be provided under sub-section 1) shall be sufficiently lighted and ventilated and shall be maintained in a clean and comfortable condition.

Section 18: Other Facilities - It shall be the duty of every contractor employing contract labour in connection with the work of an establishment to which this Act applies, to provide and maintain - a) a sufficient supply of wholesome drinking water for the contract labour at convenient places; b) a sufficient number of latrines and urinals of the prescribed types so situated as to be convenient and accessible to the contract labour in the establishment and; c) washing facilities.

Section 20: Liability of principal employer in certain cases - 1) If any amenity required to be provided under section 16, section 17, section 18 or section 19 for the benefit of the contract labour employed in an establishment is not provided by the contractor within the time prescribed therefore, such a amenity shall be provided by the principal employer within such time as may be prescribed. 2) All expenses incurred by the principal employer in providing the amenity may be recovered by the principal employer from the contractor either by deduction from any amount payable to the contractor under any contract or as a debt payable by the contractor.

Section 21 : Responsibility for payment of wages - 1) A contractor will be responsible for payment of wages to each worker employed by him as contract labour and such wages shall be paid before the expiry of such period as may be prescribed. 2) Every principal employer shall nominate a representative duly authorized by him to be present by the contractor and it shall be the duty of such representative to certify the amount paid as wages in such manner as may be prescribed. 3) It shall be the duty of the contractor to ensure the disbursement of wages in the presence of the authorized representative of the principal employer. 4) In case the contractor fails to make payment of wages within the prescribed period or make short payment, then the principal employer shall be liable to make payment of wages in full or the unpaid balance due, as the case may, to the contract labour employed by the contractor and recover the amount so paid from the contractor either by education from any amount payable to the contractor under any contract so as a debt payable by the contractor.

Section 26: Cognizance of offences - No Court shall take cognizance of any offence under this Act except on a complaint made by, or with previous sanction in writing of, the inspector and no court inferior to that of a Presidency Magistrate or a magistrate of the first class shall try any offence punishable under this Act.

Section 27: Limitation of prosecutions - No Court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under this Act unless the complain thereof is made within three months from the date on which the alleged commission of the offence came to the knowledge of an inspector. Provided - that where the offence consists of disobeying a written order made by an inspector, complaint thereof may be made within six months of the date of which the offence is alleged to have been committed.

Section 28: Inspecting Staff - 1) The appropriate government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint such persons as it thinks fit to be inspectors for the purposes of this Act, and define the local limits within which they shall exercise their powers under this Act. 2) Subject to any rules made in this behalf, an inspector may, within the local limits for which he is appointed.

Section 31: Power to exempt in Special Cases - The appropriate Government may, in the case of an emergency, direct, by notification in the Official Gazette, that subject to such conditions and restrictions, if any, and for such period or periods, as may be specified in the notification, all or any of the provisions of this Act or the rules made there under shall not apply to any establishment or class of establishments or any class of contractors.

Suggested Amendment by NCW

Section 1: Short title, extent, commencement and application - Sub-section 4) of Section 1) shall be deleted. Also sub-section 5) of Section 1) shall be deleted. Explanation shall be deleted.

Section 2: Definition - An explanation shall be added in clause c) of sub-section 1) of Section 2 ) as below: Explanation - The word contractor includes both a licensed and a non-licensed contractor. This section will read as: c) 'contractor', in relation to an establishment, means a person who undertakes to produce a given result for the establishment, other than a mere supply of goods or articles of manufacture to such establishment, through contract labour or who supplies contract labour for any work of the establishment and includes a sub-contractor. Explanation - The word contractor includes both a licensed and a non-licensed contractor. Section 2: i) This ceiling of Rs.500/- shall be removed. A suitable amount be replaced, determined by the appropriate government consistent with the living index and the sale of inflation.

Section 3: Central Advisory Board - After the proviso of this section another proviso shall be added which will read as - 'Provided further that at least half of the members nominated shall be women'.

Section 4: State Advisory Board - After the proviso of this section another proviso shall be added which will read as - 'Provided furher that at least half of the members nominated shall be women'.

Section 15: Appeal - Following section shall be substituted - i) any person aggrieved by an order made under section 7, section 8, section 12 or section 14 may, within thirty days from the date on which t he order is communicated to him, prefer an appeal to the court of Additional District Judge or a specially appointed Judicial Officer by the appropriate government. Provided that the court or specially appointed judicial officer may entertain the appeal after the expiry of the said period of thirty days, if he is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time. ii) On receipt of an appeal under sub-section 1), the Court/ specially appointed Judicial Officer shall, after giving the appellant an opportunity of being heard dispose of the appeal as expeditiously as possible.

Section 17: Rest - rooms - In sub-section 1) of Section 17 after the words 'rest room' the words 'separately for male and female' shall be inserted. 1) In every place wherein contra labour is required to halt at night in connection with the work of an establishment - c) to which this Act applies, and d) in which work requiring employment of contract labour is likely to continue for such period as may be prescribed. There shall be provided and maintained by the contractor for the use of the contract labour such number of rest-rooms separately for male and female or such other suitable alternative accommodation with in such time as may be prescribed. 2) The res-rooms or the alternative accommodation to be provided under sub-section 1) shall be sufficiently lighted an ventilated and shall be maintained in a clean and comfortable condition.

Section 18: Other Facilities - For clause a) of Section 18 following clause shall be substituted - b) a sufficient number of latrines and urinal, separately for male and female of the prescribed types so situated as to be convenient and accessible to the contract labour in the establishment; and for clause c) of section 18 following clause shall be substituted - c) washing facilities separately for male and female. A new clause d)shall be inserted - viz d) cr�che for women with infants and young children.

Section 20: Liability of principal employer in certain cases - For Section 20 the following shall be substituted - i) If any amenity required to be provided under section 16, section 17, section 18 or section 19 for the benefit of the contract labour employed in an establishment shall be provided by the principal employer within such time as may be prescribed. Ii) All expenses incurred by the principal employer in providing the amenity may be recovered by the principal employer from the contractor either by deduction from any amount payable to the contractor under any contract or as a debt payable by the contractor.

Section 21: Responsibility for payment of wages - i) It shall be the duty of the principal employer to make payment of wages to the contract labour employed by the contractor and such wages shall be paid before the expiry of such period as may be prescribed. Ii) The Principal Employer shall recover the amount so paid under section 1) from the contractor either by deduction from the amount payable to the contractor under any contract or s a debt payable by the contractor.

Section 26: Cognizance of offences - Following section shall be substituted - 'No Court shall take cognizance on any offence under this Act except on a complain made by, or with the previous sanction in writing of the inspector or any person aggrieved or by a voluntary organisation and no court inferior to that of a Presidency Magistrate or a magistrate of the first class shall try any offence punishable under this Act.

Section 27: Limitation of prosecutions - the following shall be substituted - This section will read as 'No Court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under this Act unless the complaint thereof is made within reasonable time from the date on which the alleged commission of the offence came to knowledge of an inspect. Explanation - It will be the discretion of the court to decide that what would be the reasonable time depending on the merit of the cares but is should not be less than 3 months in any case.

Section 28: Inspecting Staff - An explanation shall be added after sub-section i) of Section 28 as below: Explanation - Whenever a premises / establishment being inspected is expected to have women contract labour, the inspecting staff should include a woman inspector.

Section 31: Power to exempt in special cases - Shall be deleted.

Justification Sub - section 4) of Section - 1) To widen the scope of application of this Act. Application of this Act should not be limited to the establishment in which only twenty or more workmen are employed. It should also not exclude the establishments in which work of intermittent or casual nature is performed. These provision deprive the workmen from the benefit of this Act if there is less than twenty workmen in any establishment and work of intermittent or casual nature is performed. Consequential amendment in respect to Sub-section 5) of section 1).

Section 2: Definition - For the sake of clarity that the word contractor includes both licensed and non-licensed contractor. B) - The ceiling of Rs.500/- is too low considering the present rate of inflation. It should be reasonably enhance.

Section 3: Another proviso - To give equal participation to women in decision making process.

Section 4: Another proviso - To give equal participation to women in decision making process.

Section 15: Appeal - To ensure that the matter be looked into judicially.

Section 17: Rest-rooms - Separate shelters/rest-rooms for male and female workers would ensure privacy and better relaxation amongst the workers of both sex. Moreover, when the Act provide male and female workers separate facilities for urinals, toilets, washing places, storing and drying wet clothes (suggested), then separate shelters/rest-rooms would be appreciated.

Section 18: Other Facilities - The liability to maintain a cr�che should not be linked with the number of women workers employed in a factory. Instead, it should be linked with the number of workers, whether male or female. Section 21: To ensure the timely payment of wages to the workmen as I t is generally observed that they are not paid proper wages on time.

Section 26: Cognizance of offences - To give a right to file the complain to an aggrieved person and to an organisation working for social cause. Section 31: Power to exempt in special cases - As it grants unfettered discretion to the appropriate government to exempt the application of the Act to certain establishment.

In addition the Commission also recommends the following:

On account of the peculiar nature of their employment the contract labourers are denied the fruits of the various egalitarian social legislations like Employees State Insurance Act, 1948, Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, Minimum Wages Act, 1948 and Maternity Benefits Act, 1961. This was also observed by the Supreme Court in the Female Workers case reported in 2000 (3) SCC 224. In this view of the matter is recommended that:

a) the contract labourers are extended all the benefits that are extended to a regular employee under labour and welfare legislations.
b) all debts owed by them to their contractors be waived
c) contract laborers be treated as workmen within the meaning of the Workmen's Compensation Act 1923 for accidents arising during the course of employment
d) provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 be applicable to the matters related to contract labourers
e) principles of equal work for equal pay as envisaged in Article 39 (d) of the Constitution should be specifically incorporated in the Act.
f) women labour/welfare officers be compulsorily provided in establishment having strength of more than 100employees.
g) Women workers should not be made to work for more than 12 hours in a working day and they should not be compelled to work in the nights.

 

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