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Labour ministry lines up update of four key laws for Cabinet’s approval

Source | The Economic Times : By Yogima Sharma

NEW DELHI: The labour ministry has lined up amendments to at least four key laws for the Cabinet’s approval in a renewed push to labour reforms by the BJP-led NDA government after the revised foreign direct investment norms unveiled on Monday. This comes after a meeting between the officials of the ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) last week.

“PMO has asked labour ministry to send the key legislations for consideration,” a senior government official told ET, requesting not to be identified. The idea is to line up enough legislations for Parliament’s approval in the upcoming monsoon session, he said. The first of several legislations that could soon get a go-ahead by the Union cabinet is the Shop & Establishment Act, which will pave the way for retailers to remain open round the clock. The idea was backed by finance minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech this year.

The official said the model Shop & Establishment Act is likely to come up for cabinet’s approval this week, after which three more bills could be taken up. These include amendments to the Employees’ Provident Funds & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, amendments to the Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 and the amendments to the Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923.

Under the model Shop & Establishment Act, which will be made effective through a notification, bricks-and-mortar stores will have the flexibility to remain open round the clock.

This will provide them a level playing field to compete with their online peers. Currently, shops are required to remain closed on a specified day depending on traditional practices. There is no provision for shops to remain open round the clock, so malls and restaurants close at midnight and local markets even earlier generally. Beyond that, malls only stay open to let moviegoers exit after the last show.

Meanwhile, amendments to the EPF & MP Act will provide EPFO subscribers an option of choosing between EPF and the New Pension System as proposed by Jaitley in the previous budget a year ago while the amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act could more than double the maternity leave to 26 weeks from the existing 12 weeks.

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