The Ministry of Labour & Employment is one of the oldest and important Ministries of the Government of India. The main responsibility of the Ministry is to protect and safeguard the interests of workers in general and those who constitute the poor, deprived and disadvantage sections of the society, in particular, with due regard to creating a healthy work environment for higher production and productivity and to develop and coordinate vocational skill training and employment services.
Government’s attention is also focused on promotion of welfare and providing social security to the labour force both in organized and unorganized sectors, in tandem with the process of liberalization. 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 State Governments also have the prerogative to enact legislations, as labour is a subject in the concurrent list under the Constitution of India. At present, there are 44 labour related statutes enacted by the Central Government dealing with minimum wages, accidental and social security benefits, occupational safety and health, conditions of employment, disciplinary action, formation of trade unions, industrial relations, etc.
In order to ensure welfare of workers in the unorganized sector which, inter alia, include weavers, handloom workers, fishermen and fisherwomen, toddy tappers, leather workers, plantation labour, beedi workers, the ‘Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008’ has been enacted. As per the provisions of the Act, a National Social Security Board has been constituted for recommending formulation of social security schemes viz. Life and disability cover, health and maternity benefits, old age protection and any other benefit as may be determined by the Government for unorganized workers.