In India for a long time lassies-faire policy was doped in employment pattern, in which there was minimum Government intervention in the working of the companies. ‘Hire and fire’ was the simple policy followed by the company towards their employees and laborers. There were no laws as that regulated the employment and labour practices. The conditions laid down by the company were often ambiguous and arbitrary. Thus there was lack of uniformity and confusion among the workers leading to friction and productivity loss.
Thus the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, (the ‘Act’) lists out laws governing the contract between the employer and the employee, and the employment conditions which and be accepted by both the parties and can be even terminated mutually.
Section 2(g) of the Act states that “standing orders” are the rules relating to;
• The classification of workmen;
• Manner of intimation to workers about work and wage-related details;
• Attendance, and conditions of granting leaves, etc.;
• Rights & liabilities of the employer/ workmen in certain circumstances;
• Conditions of ‘termination of’/‘suspension from’ employment; and
• Means of redressal for workmen, or any other matter.
The objects of the Act;
• To provide regular standing orders (standardization) for factories, workers and the main professional or working relationship.
• To define, with sufficient precision, the principal conditions of employment in industrial establishments under them and to make the said conditions known to workmen employed by them.
• To regulate standards of conduct of the employers and employees so that labour-management relations could be improved.
• To maintain proper discipline, harmonious working conditions and achieve higher productivity by providing satisfactory employment and working conditions.
• To provide for redressal of grievances arising out of employment or relating to unfair treatment of wrongful exaction on the part of the employers against the employees.
• To specify the duties and responsibilities of both the employers and the employees.
• To provide statutory sanctity and importance to the Standing Orders.
• To support the promotion of industrial peace and harmony by supporting fair industrial practices.
Features of the Act
- Certification of Standing Orders
It is mandatory for every employer under the Act to get standing orders certified by submitting five draft copies the certifying officer (labour commissioner or regional labour commissioner) and any other officer appointed to perform the functions of certifying officer (Section 3)
- Conditions for Certification
Section 4 of the act provides the conditions for standing order. It states that;
• the provisions should be made for every matter applicable to the industrial establishment,
• it should be in conformity with the act and,
• it should be reasonable and fair.
- Temporary Application of Model Standing Orders
Till the time the Ac becomes applicable to an industrial establishment and the standing orders are certified; temporary application of Model Standing Orders shall be applicable to the establishment as stated under Section 12A under the Act.
- Appeals on being aggrieved
Any related party aggrieved by the order of the Certifying Officer may appeal to the ‘appellate authority’ within 30 days, provided that its decision, of confirming such Standing Order or amending it, shall be final. The appellate authority shall thereafter send copies of the Standing Order, if amended, to the related parties within seven days.
- Modification of Standing Order
Standing orders which are finally certified by the certifying officer is not liable to change. However it can be done by an agreement between the employer and workers to mutually agreeing to the contrary, until the expiry of six months from the date on which the standing orders or the last modification came into operation.
- Payment to worker in cases of misconduct
If any worker falls under the ambit of investigation or inquiry on a complaint or charges of misconduct against him then such worker will receive allowance
• At the rate of 50% for first 90 days
• At the rate of 75% for the next 90 days.
However order of suspension does not end the workers service. The reduced wages is continued till sufficient supporting evidence is obtained.
If an employer defaults to submit draft standing orders or modifies his standing orders, then the concerned officer may impose a penalty which will be above Rs 5,000 (five thousand), and in the case of a continuation of offence may impose a fine which will be above Rs 200 (two hundred) for every day till the offence continues.
- Interpretation of Standing Order
Section 13A deals with cases where there arises a question of interpretation of any of the condition in the Standing order. If any such query arises then the workman or the employer can approach the Labour Courts constituted under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. The decision of the court will be binding on the parties.
~ Abhishek Roy