What are the changes made in Labour Law?

LI Research


With the advent of urbanisation and modernisation, there were several changes which emerged in the lives of the people. But then comes the year 2020, which brings with its advent the outbreak of a deadly virus called COVID -19 or the Corona virus, which stopped the entire world.

The race against which everyone was running each day came to a halt. The period left behind by the people by not spending time with their families, came to them as a second chance, wherein everyone in the family lived together spending time with each other.

But the issue is was the scenario same for all? Well. The answer is very simple ‘No’. the people with rich resources enough to support their families in these hard times, for them it was an silver opportunity to spend a time with their families but the ones who worked on daily wages or had not enough funds to support their families, this period emerged as a curse, wherein they were forced to experience sleepless nights with empty stomachs.

For such people unable to support their family, there were several efforts made by the government at their levels, from providing food, to running special trains, to help such people who lived away from their homes for the purpose of earning money to reach their homes.

However, the decision in a scenario where the situation of such a pandemic was at its worst stage, is doubtful as to whether it should have been taken or not.

Some believe that it was necessary and need of the hour so that in such hard times people are there with their families but some believe it was a political move by the government for securing their seats in next elections which ultimately led to increase in number of cases and large spread of the deadly virus in the nation.

However, lack of proper evidence makes commenting on such an issue not admissible in eyes of law.

Changes in Labour Law

When the effect of the deadly pandemic virus is taken into consideration, it can be said that it not only affected the physical health of the people but also the mental health in many ways. It at first created a fear in the mind of the people that when they are attacked by this virus, death is the ultimate result and above that the losses they bore in their businesses and works due to the declaration of the nationwide lockdown, acted as a salt in the cake.

However, to help people survive these hard times, government in respect of the businesses and the employment made several amendments in the labour law which existed in India by making them more flexible and providing with such measures which may be necessary in the corona era.

Labour is an issue which falls under the concurrent list and therefore, making, amending and suspending the law with respect to labour can be done by the state, however, it requires approval from the Centre before its enforcement and hence if the issue arises as to whether the laws or amendments made by the state government in its labour laws is justified or not, then the answer is that such amendments is justified but with the approval of the Centre.

Following this power granted by the Constitution of India to the State Government, in the age of pandemic, the government of different states have been made.

The Uttar Pradesh government took a great initiative wherein it promulgated an ordinance called the ‘Uttar Pradesh Temporary Exemption from Certain Labour Laws Ordinance, 2020’ (“Ordinance“) and exempted from compliance a majority of the labour laws for a period of three years.

This led other states to issue notifications to grant exemptions under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, the Factories Act, 1948 and also extended working hours for a period of three months.[1]

Changes made by the different states

Uttar Pradesh

The UP government made several changes in its labour laws keeping in view the social security and interest of the people, wherein it suspended several labour laws and rules which were in practice under the state with respect to factories and establishments engaged in manufacturing process for the limited period of 3 years.

Some of these laws may include-

  • Apprentices Act 1961;
  • Beedi and Cigar Workers Act 1966;
  • Cine Workers and Cinema Theatre W. Act 1981;
  • Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970;
  • Dookan Aur Vanijya Adhisthan Act 1962;
  • Factories Act 1948 (barring provisions relating to safety and security of workers);
  • Industrial Disputes Act 1947;
  • Industrial Employment Act 1946;
  • Minimum Wages Act 1948;
  • Motor Transport Workers Act 1961;
  • Payment of Bonus Act 1965;
  • Payment of Gratuity Act 1972;
  • Payment of Wages Act 1936 (barring Section 5);
  • Public Liability Insurance Act 1991;
  • Sales Promotion Employees Act 1976;
  • The Indian Boiler Act, 1923;
  • Trade Unions Act 1926;
  • Weekly Holidays Act 1942;
  • Working Journalists Employees Act 1955;
  • Dangerous Machines Act 1983;
  • Sick Industrial Companies Act 1985;
  • Building and other construction workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Act, 1996 (barring provisions relating to safety and security of workers);
  • UP Shops & Establishments Act 1962;
  • UP Welfare Fund Act;
  • UP Industrial Peace (Timely Payment of Wages) Act 1961;
  • UP Industrial Housing Act 1955;
  • Industrial Establishment (National Holidays) Act 1961;
  • UP Industrial Undertakings Special Provisions for Prevention of (Unemployment) Act 1966;
  • UP Employment of Substitute Workmen Act 1978; and
  • UP Sugar & Power Alcohol Industries Labour Welfare & Development Fund Act 1950

The amendments to the labour law have been made not only by the UP government but also by the governments of the other states, which may include Madhya Pradesh (MP), Gujarat, Rajasthan and also Himachal Pradesh (HP).

Madhya Pradesh

In the state of MP, there have been amendments made under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, wherein several provisions of Chapter V-A, V-B pertaining to conditions precedent to retrenchment of workmen, procedure for closing down an undertaking, special provisions as to restarting of undertakings closed down before commencement of the Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Act, 1976, penalty for lay-off and retrenchment without previous permission and penalty for closure[2].

This exemption made is subject to be applicable for a fixed period of time of about 1000 days, further subject to the conditions imposed accordingly. The following notification has also provided with an exemption in the Factories Act, 1948 and MP Factories Rules, 1962 for a period of three (3) months from the date of publication of the notification.

Exemption is available from all provisions of the Factories Act, 1948 barring provisions pertaining to approval, licensing and registration of factories, notice by occupier and inspectors, provisions of Chapter IV, IV-A, S.59, S.65, S.67, S.79, S.88 and S. 112.


In the State of Gujarat exemptions have been made with respect to all the factories made under the Factories Act, 1948 with respect to the various provisions relating to weekly hours, daily hours, intervals for rest etc., further providing with certain conditions to be followed which may include-

  1. No adult worker shall be allowed or required to work in a factory for more than twelve (12) hours a day and seventy-two (72) hours in a week.
  2. No worker shall work for more than six (6) hours before he has had an interval for rest for at least half an hour on each day.
  3. No female worker shall be allowed or required to work in a factory between 7:00 PM to 6:00 AM.
  4. Wages shall be in proportion of the existing wages. (E.g. if wages for eight (8) hours are Rs. 80, then the proportionate wages for twelve (12) hours will be Rs. 120).

The provided benefit is made available to the labour for the fixed period of 1200 days.


The efforts to make the rules and laws flexible for the labour is made in other states, Rajasthan has also made an effort in this regard, wherein, the notification issued by Rajasthan provides-

  • For extending working hours to twelve hours per day for a period of three months from the date of the order.
  • To reduce manpower requirements in factories manufacturing essential food and grocery supplies, the Government of Rajasthan has exempted the provisions of working hours of adult workers under the Factories Act, 1948 subject to a few conditions[3].

Further the clarification has been made with respect to working of 4 hours extra per day and the pay shall be done to an overtime limit of 24 hours per week.

Himachal Pradesh

There are several changes which have been made with respect to labour law in the state of Himachal Pradesh wherein all factories registered under the Factories Act, 1948, are exempted subject to following conditions:

  1. No worker shall work in a factory for more than twelve (12) hours in any day and seventy-two (72) hours in a week.
  2. No worker shall work for more than six (6) hours before he has had an interval for rest for at least half an hour.
  3. Wages in respect of increased working hours as a result of the exemption shall be in proportion to existing minimum wages fixed by the Government of HP under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
  4. Provisions of Section 59 pertaining to overtime wages shall continue to be applicable without any change.[4]


The advent of COVID – 19 is definitely a difficult and unexpected time which every person in the world is experiencing. However, some view it in a positive way and are utilizing it for their self-development, however, for some it is curse which has emerged in their lives wherein earning money has come to a halt which has not only affected their lifestyle but have also put the future of their into the darkness.

In such hard times the efforts made by the government for the development of labour and employers, who are largely affected by the nationwide lockdown is a great step.

It is therefore, the need to exempt certain restrictions prevalent in the law not only for the development of the labour as a class but also to ensure that the economy of the nation is not largely affected.

But is the story really what it looks like. Well, the other side of the coin shows that even after declaring schemes for issuance of food, flexible services, the work done is only limited to papers. The situation in reality is in a worse situation.

Despite of such a situation being practiced, there is no coverage made in this regard by the big news heads, exposing the corrupt ministers. Rather, the channels in these days is filled with the praises of the schemes and efforts made by the government, but to what extend still remains a question.

It is the real hero ‘Sonu Sood” who came forward in this arduous period and helped the poor labour class in every possible manner. Such an act of a public figure is not only inspiring rather an act of role model, reflecting the role which every youth in the country should play on their ends, to help the people in need and keep the pillar of humanity alive.

  1. Ashima Obhan & Bambi Bhalla, India: Suspension of Labour Laws Amidst Covid – 19, Obhan & Associates (Aug 12, 2020, 8:20 A.M.), https://www.mondaq.com/india/employment-and-workforce-wellbeing/935398/suspension-of-labour-laws-amidst-covid-19.
  2. Supra note 1.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.

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