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Home > Know Your Rights > Labour Rights
FAQ's | Landmark Judgements | Legal Frameworks


Q1.  What is meant by Labour Rights?

A1.  Labour rights are the rights given to the labourers and employees working in factories and various industrial units or in any other occupation. These rights are available to every employed person working under a employer. Constitution of India under its various provisions provides these rights to the workers. Also, many labour rights are given through a number of laws passed by the Parliament from time to time.


Q2.  What is the importance of Labour Rights? Why are they given?

A2.  Labour Rights are important because they protect the interests of the working class population. Since ancient times, the rich have oppressed the poor, the employers have exploited the labourers and the masters have ill-treated their slaves. The Labour rights ensure that all this does not happen. They give certain rights to the labourers to empower them and protect them from exploitation by their employers.


Q3.  What are the various Labour Rights available to labourers in India?

A3.  Various Labour rights are available to the labourers in India. Some of them are:

1.  Right to get equal pay for equal work

2.  Right to form trade unions

3.  Right of women workers to get maternity benefits

4.  Right to protection from bonded(forced) labour

5.  Right not to be terminated at the will of employer

6.  Right to fixed working hours

7.  Right to overtime payment for extra work

8.  Right to get leaves and other allowances

9.  Right to adequate compensation in case of accident during work

10.  Right to protection against sexual harassment of women at work place


Q4.  Do workers have a right to strike if they face any exploitation at the workplace?

A4.  In India, although the right to strike is not expressly recognized by the law, the Trade Union Act, 1926 for the first time provided limited right to strike to workers. This means that the trade unions can give a call to the workers to go on strike for the fulfillment of their demands, but the state can impose reasonable restrictions on such strikes to promote public good.


Q5.  How can the workers right to equal pay for equal work be secured?

A5.  Constitution of India under Article 39 (d) addresses the issue of equal pay for equal work for both men and women. To secure this right, the Government of India enacted Equal Remuneration Act in 1975. This means that men and women both will be paid equal pay for the equal number of working hours. There shall be no discrimination on the basis of gender between male and female workers in the payment of wages. This law was passed to secure the right of women workers as women were paid less wages than male workers for the equal amount of work. Also, the Constitution directs the government to ensure that the health and strength of workers, men and women and children are not abused and that the citizens are not forced by economic necessity to take to vocations unsuited to their age or strength.


Q6.  On what grounds an employer can terminate the services of a labourer?

A6.  A permanent worker can be removed from service only for proven misconduct or for habitual absence – due to ill health, alcoholism and the like, or on attaining retirement age. This means that a labourer cannot be terminated from his service at the will of the employer. The employer must give a strong and valid reason to terminate a worker.


Q7.  I got injured by a machine during work. Do I have any right to get compensation from the factory owner?

A7.  Yes, you are fully entitled to claim compensation from your employer. The government passed the Workman’s Compensation Act 1923 under which all cases of ‘accident arising out of and in the course of employment’ are covered. Workers are entitled to a lump sum compensation on the basis of the extent of injury and the loss of earning capacity. The younger the worker and the higher the wage, the greater is the compensation subject to a limit. If the accident causes the death of the worker then, his dependent can claim the compensation.


Q8.  If the employer refuses to pay the compensation, whom should I approach?

A8.  You should approach the Labour Commissioner of your area and file a complaint with him stating all the facts. You can do it directly and you do not need to hire a lawyer for this. The Labour Commissioner will study your case and will call your employer for explanation. If he finds merit in your case, he will issue directions to your employer to pay you suitable compensation. For further information you can visit the site of the Ministry of Labour (http://labour.nic.in/ ).


Q9.  What are the maternity benefits available to a woman worker?

A9.  A woman employee is entitled to 90 days or 12 weeks of paid leave on delivery. She can take 6 weeks leave before her delivery and 6 weeks after delivery; or she can take the entire 12 week leave after her delivery. A woman employee is also entitled to 6 weeks paid leave on miscarriage under the Maternity Benefit Act.  Also, she is entitled to one month of paid leave for illness arising out of pregnancy or premature birth of child. Similar benefits, including hospitalization facilities and medical bonus are also available under the law.


Q10.  What are the retirement benefits available to workers?

A10.  There are two types of retirement benefit generally available to workers. One is under the Payment of Gratuity Act and the other is under the Provident Fund Act. In the first case, a worker who has worked for five years or more is entitled to a lump sum payment equal to 15 days’ wages for every completed year of service. Every month the employer has to contribute the required money into a separate fund to make this payment on retirement or termination of employment. In the latter scheme, both the employee and the employer make an equal contribution into a national fund. The current rate of contribution is 12 percent of the wage including a small percentage towards family pension. This contribution also attracts an interest, currently 9.5 percent per annum, and the accumulated amount is paid on retirement to the employee along with the interest that has accrued.

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