Govt liberalizes labor laws in apparel manufacturing

In a bid to liberalize labor laws in the apparel manufacturing sector, the government on Saturday notified the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders), thus facilitating fixed-term employment. This is despite the fact that trade unions, including the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, are opposed to any flexibility in the labor regime.

According to an official press release, “The decision would facilitate employment of workers in apparel manufacturing on fixed-term basis in the backdrop of seasonal nature of sector and would also ensure same working conditions, wages and other benefits for fixed-term employee in the sector as a regular employee. It is thus win-win situation for both employers and employees in apparel manufacturing sector.”

Fixed-term employment is defined as a workman employed on a contract basis for a fixed period. The services of the workman get automatically terminated as a result of non-renewal of the contract between him and the employer. Separation of service of a workman as a result of non-renewal of the contract of employment, however, shall not be construed as termination of employment, said the release.

According to the government, the seasonal nature of the textile sector results in fluctuation of demand and hence requires flexibility in employing worker. The working conditions in terms of working hours, wages, allowances, and other statutory dues of a fixed-term employee would be at par with permanent workmen.

A fixed-term worker will also be eligible for all statutory benefits available to a permanent workman proportionately as per the period of service rendered by him, even though his period of employment does not extend to the qualifying period of employment required in the statute.

The employer can directly hire a worker for a fixed term without mediation of any contractor. The worker employed for a short period will get better working and service conditions as compared to a contract worker.

The flexibility would provide liberty to employers in employing workers and hence strengthening and empowering the textile and apparel sector. It is one of the measures of the approved package for the textile sector in June this year.

The measures assume significance due also to the potential for social transformation through women empowerment, says the official release. As much as 70 per cent of the workforce in the garment industry comprises women.

The notified order would ultimately benefit the workers as their working conditions would be at par with the regular employees, including social security and other benefits, said the release. At the same time, it would provide flexibility to the employers.