Government likely to make health checks for workers compulsory

The Central government has proposed to make it compulsory for companies to conduct health checks of factory workers every year.

This is part of a draft code on occupational safety, health and working conditions, put forward by the ministry of labour and employment. The government is trying to merge and reclassify the country’s 44 labour laws into four broad codes — one each on industrial relations, wages, social security, and occupational safety, health and working conditions. The Centre has already proposed the first three and these are at various stages of approval.

“We believe annual health check-ups will lead to higher productivity in a factory. Beside, the Centre has been empowered to prescribe standards on occupational safety and health. We might mandate compulsory health check-ups for all workers above the age of 40 years,” said a senior ministry official.

The move will help employers keep a track of the diseases workers could suffer from while doing their jobs.

In the latest proposed code, the government has sought to merge 13 labour laws. These include the Factories Act, 1948; the Mines Act, 1952; the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996; and the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970.

The proposed code — the first single legislation prescribing standards for working conditions, health and safety of workers — is sought to apply for factories with at least 10 workers.

“We need to see how the proposed law is in sync with the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions on worker safety, yet to be ratified by our government. However, making annual health check-up and appointment letters mandatory are welcome. It will help establish workers as employees of an organisation and make them understand their rights. Often, employers deprive them of their rights as they are not shown on payrolls,” Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh president CK Saji Narayanan said.