The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1976 is an important piece of legislation that governs the employment of contract labour in India. This act was introduced to regulate and improve the working conditions of contract labourers who were often subjected to exploitation and abuse.
The act defines contract labour as any worker who is hired in connection with the work of an establishment by or through an intermediary, with or without the knowledge of the principal employer. The act applies to all establishments that employ 20 or more contract workers, and it mandates that these establishments must obtain a license from the appropriate government authority to hire contract labour.
The act also sets out various regulations that must be followed by the principal employer and the contractor, including the payment of minimum wages, the provision of health and safety measures, and the maintenance of records and registers. The act also stipulates that contract workers must be treated on par with permanent employees in terms of working conditions and benefits.
One of the key provisions of the act is the abolition of contract labour in certain industries. The act identifies certain activities such as loading and unloading, cleaning, and watch and ward duties, which are considered to be perennial in nature and cannot be undertaken through contract labour. The act also provides for the gradual abolition of contract labour in other industries, with a view to ensuring that all workers eventually have the same rights and protections as permanent employees.
While the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1976 has been effective in regulating the employment of contract labour, there have been criticisms of the act in recent years. Some argue that the act has not gone far enough in protecting the rights of contract workers, while others point out that the act has led to an increase in the use of informal labour in certain industries.
Despite these criticisms, the act remains an important piece of legislation for ensuring that contract workers are treated fairly and equitably in India. By regulating the employment of contract labour and gradually abolishing it in certain industries, the act is helping to create a more just and equitable workforce for all.