“The need of the hour is to balance the rights of workers as well as shaping India’s economic recovery.”– Gautam Khaitan, Managing Partner, OP Khaitan & Co
Gautam Khaitan is a well regarded name amongst the top corporate-suit lawyers of the country today. His strong commands on legal matters draws from 30 glorious years of experience as a corporate attorney, heading the Business Law division of the OP and Khaitan Co firm which he jointly manages. Besides his marked prowess in helping clients and businesses through legal dealings, he has time and out actively participated in the country’s legal proceedings- translating the values of laws to ordinary men and publicizing the best benefits that they sustain.
In the wake of 2020, the Parliament of the country had arbitrated three new and momentous laws as part of its reformed Labour Code Bill. These new measures intended to condition better economic circumstances for businesses and employees of the country and at the same time amplify labour rights from the constrains of the former labour laws. The propositions to rationalise existent industry relations, occupational security, working conditions and employee welfare were at the core as these laws were passed in October of the last year.
Soon however, this latest order had faced loud backlashes and slams from a large audit of the country who saw the laws as arbitrary efforts to mute down employee power whilst amplifying the already powerful employers. As confusions and multiple interpretations have taken seat with the year-long labour reform efforts, Gautam Khaitan expresses his views on these policies in efforts to curb down the controversies and throw light at what really lies in the core of these efforts.
Speaking of the Industrial Code Bill, Mr. Khaitan criticizes some weighty loopholes that this new enactment came with. One major drawback as highlighted by him was how the bill significantly limited the right to strike of the employees. The law prohibited any strikes or lockouts occurring without a 60 day notice period, when legal matters await proceedings or after a period of 60 days until any legal proceedings is concluded. The constrictions of the law further extended great deal of speculations upon the organizations with less that 300 hired-hands who could now exercise arbitrary authority upon its workforces as their accountability to the government is greatly reduced under the bill. Gautam Khaitan fears how such a step could considerably sabotage job security or the little protection that (migrant or otherwise) employees were earlier entitled to.
While detailing his dissatisfaction with the Industrial Code Bill, Mr. Khaitan however sees great possibilities that the Social Security Bill and the Occupational Health, Safety and Working Condition Code Bills could hold in for our country. He appraises the government efforts that sought to provide stronger recognition to migrant workers and extend the legal framework to shelter them. The to-be-introduced- “National Social Security Board” could stand as a strong institution to reflect the aspirations of the many workers in the unorganized sector that have historically stood far off the framework of entitlements that workers of the organised sector enjoy.
Another outstanding pillar of the bill is in its efforts that mandate employers to shoulder the responsibilities of the migrant workers rendering services to their organization- the law proposes a handout of 1-2 % of the total turnout of companies for the social security of these employees.
In the words of Gautam Khaitan, the best possibility for the country to march forward from here is to be found in its attempts to manifest a future of the economy through building the strengths of the workers. As more efforts are aimed to empower the workers, the system in itself becomes a pro-employer and a pro-industry one. In his stance in regard of the laws, Gautam Khaitan makes it clear how he holds tremendous optimism for the greater ways in which these laws could shape the future of our economy for good, whilst also elucidating the possible harms that the slips in the codes could instigate.
Our country requires holistic eyes to reforms, like the one pragmatists like Mr. Khaitan shares, for the new adaptations to strike the roots of existent labour conditions, so that the Labour codes on Operational safety, Health and Working conditions, the Industrial code and the Social Security Code can really go about to bring a sea change for the labours in our country whilst keeping the interest of economic prosperity in regard.