The Ministry of Labour and Employment seeks to protect and safeguard the interests of workers in general and those who constitute the poor, deprived and disadvantaged sections of the society, in particular, with due regard to creating a healthy work environment for higher production and productivity, and developing and coordinating vocational skill training and employment services. Government’s attention is also focused on promotion of welfare activities and providing social security to the labour force both in the organised and unorganised sectors, in tandem with the process of liberalisation. These objectives are sought to be achieved through enactment and implementation of various labour laws, which regulate the terms and conditions of service and employment of workers.

The following are the thrust areas of the Government concerning labour laws:

  • Labour policy and legislation;
  • Safety, health and welfare of labour;
  • Social security of labour;
  • Policy relating to special target groups such as women and child labour;
  • Industrial relations and enforcement of labour laws in the central sphere;
  • Adjudication of industrial disputes through Central Government Industrial Tribunals-cum-Labour Courts and National Industrial Tribunals;
  • Workers’ education;
  • Labour and employment statistics;
  • Emigration of labour for employment abroad;
  • Employment services and vocational training;
  • Administration of central labour and employment services; and
  • International cooperation in labour and employment matters.

India has a number of labour laws that govern almost all the aspects of employment such as payment of wages, minimum wages, payment of bonus, payment of gratuity, contributions to provident fund and pension fund, working conditions, accident compensations, etc. The Government has enacted certain central legislations, viz, the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, Employees State Insurance Act, Payment of Wages Act, Minimum Wages Act, Equal Remuneration Act, Maternity Benefits Act, etc.

In addition, at the State level, the State Governments usually have a separate Labour Ministry, which seeks to ensure compliance with State labour laws (viz, State Shops and Establishments Act, Labour Welfare Fund Act, etc) through its Labour Department, which is generally operational at the district level.

The various labour legislations enacted by the Central Government can be classified into the following different broad categories:

A. Laws relating to Industrial Relations-

1. Industrial Disputes Act, 1947

2. Trade Unions Act, 1926

B. Laws relating to Wages

1. Minimum Wages Act, 1948

2. Payment of Wages Act, 1936

3. Payment of Bonus Act, 1965

C. Laws relating to Social Security

1. Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952

2. Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948

3. Labour Welfare Fund Act (of respective States)

4. Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972

5. Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923

D. Laws relating to Working Hours, Conditions of Services and Employment

1. Factories Act, 1948

2. Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946

3. Shops and Commercial Establishments Act (of respective States)

4. Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970

5. Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979

6. Weekly Holiday Act, 1942

7. National and Festival Holidays Act (of respective States) 1963

8. The Plantation Labour Act, 1951

9. The Mines Act, 1952

10. The Dock Workers (Safety, Health & Welfare) Act, 1986

E. Laws relating to Equality and Empowerment of Women

1. Equal Remuneration Act, 1976

2. Maternity Benefits Act, 1961

F. Prohibitive Labour Laws

1. Bonded Labour System (Abolition), Act, 1976

2. Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986

3. The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) Act, 1966

4. The Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

G. Laws relating to Employment and Training

1. Apprentices Act, 1961

2. Employment Exchanges (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959