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Labour law is also known as employment law. It governs the obligations between employer and employees. Employment law consists of administrative rulings, collection of different laws which deal with the legal rights of the labour and restrictions on both employer and employee. Labour law is divided into two categories, Individual labour law and Collective labour law.

§ Individual Labour Law:

Individual labour law is considered as one of the parts of labour laws which deal with the relationship between employer and individual employee without the involvement of trade unions.

§ Collective Labour Law:

Collective labour law is a part of labour laws that deals with the relation between employee, employer and trade unions. The law oversees wages, health benefits and duties of employees and the conflict management between the company and trade union.

The following Articles of Indian Constitution directly concern labour rights, they are:

Article 14 includes that everyone should be equal before law, Article 15 states that state should not discriminate against citizen, Article 16 declares equal opportunity, Article 19 (1) (c) gives right to form unions or associations, Article 23 prohibits forced labour, Article 24 prohibits child labour which also include child below the age 14 years to include in hazardous jobs, Article 38(1) promotes the welfare of people and 38(2) decreases the inequality of income. Article 43(A) inserted through the 42nd amendment secures the participation of workers in the management of undertakings.


Labour law arose in parallel with the industrial Revolution because the correlation between employee and employer changed from small-scale production studios to large-scale factories. Workers sought better conditions and so the proper to hitch a labour union, while employers sought a more predictable, flexible and fewer costly workforce. The state of labour law at any single time is therefore both the product of and a component of struggles between various social forces.

As England was the primary country to industrialize, it had been also the primary to face the usually appalling consequences of the economic revolution during a less regulated economic framework. Over the course of the late 18th and early to the mid-19th century the foundation for modern labour law was slowly laid, as some of the more egregious aspects of working conditions were steadily ameliorated through legislation. This was largely achieved through the concerted pressure from social reforms, notably Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, and others.

Major Labour Law Acts in India-

Trade Union Act, 1926: In the year 1920, labourers at different places like Buckingham, Madras etc. called for strikes and protests. A suit was filed against labourers in Madras High Court; this situation became so serious that it led to drafting of an Act which is called Trade Union Act, 1926. The Act gave the powers to the union for having its own voice.

Minimum Wages Act, 1948: The Minimum Wages Act, 1948 is an Act of Parliament dealing with Indian Labour Laws; it sets the minimum wages that must be paid to skilled and unskilled labour. This Act ensures minimum wage or salary to the labourers of different economic sectors. Central and State governments have the authority to decide the wages according to the kind of work and location. This wage may gamut between as much as rupees 143 to 1120 per day. This minimum wage can be different in states to states. The average per day wage rate for unskilled worker under the MGNREGA is set to rise by 11 percent from 182 to 202 for 2020-21.

Industrial Disputes Act, 1947: The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 has been enacted for the investigation and settlement of industrial disputes in any industrial establishment. The Industrial Disputes Act defines "Industrial dispute" as a dispute or difference between workmen and employers or between workmen and workmen, which is connected with employment or non-employment or the terms of employment or with the conditions of labour. Expulsion of a personal workman is deemed to be an industrial dispute. The Industrial Disputes Act provides for the constitution of the Works Committee, consisting of employers and workmen, to market measures for securing and preserving harmony and good relations between the employer and also the workmen and, thereto end, endeavors to resolve any material difference of opinion in respect of such matters.

Maternity Benefits Act, 1961: It protects the employment of the women employees during the time of the maternity for a period of 12 weeks that is 84 days. An amendment to the Maternity Benefits Act was passed in the year 2017. The Maternity Benefits Amendment Act, 2017 has increased the duration of paid maternity leave for women from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, this benefit could be aided by the women for a period extending up to 8 weeks before the expected date of delivery and the remaining time can be aided after the child’s birth. As per the Act to be eligible for maternity benefits the women must have been working as an employee in an establishment for a period of at least 80 days within the past 12 months.

Sexual Harassment of Women Employees at Workplace Act, 2013: Sexual harassment at a workplace is taken into account violation of women's right to equality, life and liberty. It creates an insecure and hostile work environment, which discourage women's participation in work, thereby adversely affecting their social and economic empowerment and therefore the goal of inclusive growth. With this concept the legislature formulated the harassment of women at Workplace Act, 2013.

The need for such legislation was observed first time by the Supreme Court, in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan[i]. Within the absence of any law at that point providing measures to see the evil of harassment of working women, the Supreme Court, in exercise of power available under Article 32 of the Constitution, framed guidelines to be followed in the least workplaces or institutions, until legislation is enacted for the aim. The Supreme Court incorporated basic principles of human rights enshrined in Constitution of India under Article 14, 15, 19(1)(g) and 21, and provisions of Convention on Elimination of All sorts of Discrimination against Women, which has been ratified in 1993 by the Government of India. The rules laid down by the Supreme Court were to be treated because the law declared under Article 141 of the Constitution.

Therefore, after presenting all the above information there are many more important cases related to labour laws which helped the employees to attain benefits and have an amiable relation with the management of a corporation. Incorporation of labour laws in India helped it enhance its workforce.

AUTHOR: Srikar Bommanagari

[i]AIR 1997 SC 3011


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