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Centre clears Occupational Safety & Health Code for Contract Labour to support industries including pharma

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Saturday, July 13, 2019, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The Union Cabinet has approved the Occupational Safety & Health Code for Contract Labour Regulation Act to support Indian pharma industry among other sectors. It was the Indian Staffing Federation (ISF), the apex body of flexi staffing industry which worked closely with the government to mandate the National Licensing under CLRA (Contract Labour Regulation Act) modelled around the ILO 181 Convention.
The objective is to combine adequate protection of contract workers and the role that contract staffing companies play in a well-functioning labour market for job creation and business competitiveness enhancement. The regulation now provides a legal framework to counter illegal practices. The operational requirements for the flexi staffing agencies and the user-company will now need to be strictly complied with. It will ensure free movement of workers and allow for a sound mobility of the workforce at the national level.
According to Kaushik Desai, pharma consultant, this initiation is in right direction to streamline the licensing of contract staffing organizations. Most of the pharma companies employ contract labour for variety of services covering housekeeping, warehousing operations, security, maintenance, and helpers in packaging etc. It is more prevalent in companies manufacturing on contract. The contract staffing organizations will have to ensure that the contract labourers are medically fit and given wages as per minimum wages act. They have also to give them formal appointment letters. Although, the Act is more applicable and beneficial to major infrastructure projects, pharma sector also will have to comply. There are not many licensed contractors and this move will force them to register and take relevant permits. Overall, such initiatives will ease out doing business smoothly and transparently.
Besides the license having a 3-year validity, the licensed staffing company would be able to undertake quick manpower projects and timely execute, thus facilitating organizations to bring their projects to a faster realization across multiple states. Job seekers will have their employment and social security as they would be employed with the licensed staffing players. Organizations will have the protection to work with the organized staffing players as they will have the pre-approved licensed companies to start work on immediate basis, noted ISF.

The ISF noted that the term ‘contractor’ needs clear difference between job order contracts and manpower supply contracts. In the current era of work, where freelancers and gig economy is being the upcoming work arrangements, the government should adopt the words that clearly differentiates the role of contract staffing companies from contractors who drive project execution. The reporting system should see the state and central government utilize the data on the actual contract employees in the country through one unique system. Online system of approvals must be brought in to overcome the project delays.

Rituparna Chakraborty, president, ISF and executive vice president & co-founder, TeamLease Services, noted that to break away from the shackles of fraudulent, unscrupulous players who operate in the space of contract staffing who use force and coercion as a means to exist and ensure fair and legitimate employment options for our youth, we needed the provision of National License under CLRA. This calls to fulfill strict criteria of financial capabilities and credibility to efficiently operate for staffing companies.


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