New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Friday passed the Wage Code Bill making it the first labour legislation which merges the four existing labour laws into one, thereby paving way for the consolidation of more labour legislation in coming days.

The Bill, that not only ensures minimum wages but also the timely payment of it, was passed by a margin of 85 to eight votes. With the help of the Wage Code Bill, the minimum wage will be fixed based on the skills or the employees or their geographical location.

Who does the Bill benefit?

The law will benefit around 40% of the country’s total population, i.e. 50 crore workers. This is because the Minimum Wages Act, which is one of the four existing labour laws within the Wage Code Bill, does not cover 60% of the workers.

However, the newly passed law will apply to all 50 crore workers. It also aims to bring all domestic workers and not just the MNREGA workers under its ambit.

What are some of the other benefits of the Bill?

Moreover, the bill has provision for no gender discrimination in either recruitment or payment of wages and thus has the potential to increase women labour force participation rate in the country.

The Bill also seeks to bring down the categories of wages from about 3,000 to around 200. This it seeks to achieve by doing away with the ‘type of employment’ as one of the factors in determining the minimum wage range.

Under the Wage Code, the minimum wage will be determined by taking into account the labourers’ primary skills and the geographical area they are working in. It is this removal of the ‘type of employment’ criteria that enables the government to drastically bring down the categories of wages.

Further, the Bill will bring in more transparency, better use of available workforce and better enforcement of labour laws by introducing computerized “inspectors-cum-facilitators” instead of the usual inspectors, in some dedicated geographical regions.

What next for the Wage Code Bill?

The Bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on July 30, will now be sent to the President assent on getting which, it will become an Act.