30 May 2020: Government has lifted lockdown, first put in place on 23 March 2020 and subsequently extended till 30 May 2020. From 1 June 2020 factories and commercial establishments will be allowed to function except for regions marked as containment zones. The government has directed employers to follow the following guidelines:
30 May 2020: Odisha government has launched a financial package for kendu leaf workers to the tune of Rs 87.50 crore which would benefit over 8.35 lakh workers. It has decided to raise the price of a kendu bundle containing 20 leaves from existing Re.1 to Rs.1.20. A 25% bonus to over 7.89 lakh registered kendu leaf pluckers and 5% wage incentive to 17,345 registered kendu leaf binders and 17,444 unorganised seasonal workers. Additionally the state would release Rs.200 to each plucker for buying water bottles.
29 May 2020: Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have announced that they would undertake an extensive skill mapping exercise to ascertain the skills of workers who are returning home due to the COVID-19 lockdown and ensure that these workers get jobs within the state. Madhya Pradesh government has launched Rozgar Setu scheme which is aimed at bringing together returning workers, employer and contractors engaged in infrastructure schemes on an online portal to seek employment within the state.
28 May 2020: Telangana government has decided to stop the financial aid of Rs.1,500 given to workers including migrant workers as it is reeling under financial pressure. It also announced 50% cuts in salary for the month of May, government had paid only 50% wages for the month of March and April too. Telangana has to get Rs 12,000 crore revenue every month. But due to the lockdown, the state revenue has declined drastically. In May, the state received Rs 3,100 crore, which includes the state’s share of Rs 982 crore in the central taxes. Ministers, MLAs, MLCs, chairpersons of government corporations and urban and rural local bodies members would get 25 per cent of their salaries, while IAS, IPS and IFS officials would get 40 per cent salary. Pensioners would get 75 per cent of their pension, while outsourcing and contract workers would get 90 per cent wages.
26 May 2020: As the centre relaxed the countrywide lockdown allowing establishments to start functioning again many states have chosen to extend their working hours from the existing 8 to 10 or even 12 hours a day and scrapping key labour laws. Uttar Pradesh was the first state to announce it would do away with all labour laws except for minimum wages, health and safety under Factories Act, and protections for women workers and children for 1000 days. It was followed by Gujarat which announced a scrapping of all labour laws for new establishments for 3 years. Other states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Odisha, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Tripura followed suit. Trade Unions approached ILO against this blatant violation of its conventions by the state after which Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have rescinded their decision and the Union Labour Minister has said that states would not be allowed to make arbitrary changes in labour laws.
19 May 2020: Ministry of Home Affairs has withdrawn its order dated 29 March 2020 which directed All employers, be it in the industry or in shops and commercial establishments to make payment of wages of their workers, at their workplaces, on the due date, without any deduction, for the period their establishments are under closure during the lockdown. Employer’s Associations had approached the Apex Court against this order in April where the matter is still pending.
19 May 2020: Ministry of Labour and Employment has announced a reduction in the contribution towards Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) from existing 12% to 10% for the months of May, June and July. However, Central Public Sector Enterprises and Public Sector Undertakings will continue to contribute 12% towards the EPF. The move is aimed at infusing an estimated liquidity of Rs. 6,750 crores in the market as a cut in the contribution would increase the in hand wages of workers. However, unions have voiced their concerns over the long term implication of slashing EPF contributions. The relaxation provided to employers in the name of pumping money in the market by allowing them to cut their contribution towards the social security of workers will adversely impact benefits available to workers post-retirement.