Brief Guide About Labour Law In India

Indian labour laws date back to the British era, when the first labour law was enacted, and are meant define the relations between the workmen and the employers, and to protect the interests of the employees. d countries. Labour laws in India are significantly different from that of the developed countries. The multitude of labour laws in India makes it quite complex for the employers to meet compliance which necessitates the need for employers to hire labour law consultant to advise them on such matters.

Labour Law In India

Labour comes under the concurrent list of the constitution, that is, both the central and state governments have jurisdiction over it and the powers to legislate. However, the central government has the exclusive powers to legislate on some aspects of labour.

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Both governments have enacted a plethora of laws to protect the employees’ interests and create employment opportunities for the abundantly available labour in India. There is a clear distinction between the organised and unorganised sectors, and a majority of labour is denied the benefits. However, some amendments to the existing laws and new schemes floated by the government seek to extend some benefits to the unorganised sector as well.

Labour laws in India are constantly evolving to address the needs of the ever-changing labour market in the wake of the economic transformation the country is going through. The opening up of the Indian economy has led to many multinational companies opening shop in India. To make the business environment investor-friendly and to promote ease of doing the business campaign, the governments have made several amendments to the existing laws and also enacted new laws to attract new investments and also to conform to the international labour standards. 

Labour Laws in India

As mentioned earlier, India has a plethora of laws on labour. Central laws are applicable throughout the country while state-specific laws relate to a particular state. There is no single code to govern labour in India. Also, the laws vary across industries, different sizes of the organization, wages, etc. Some labour laws have been briefly described hereunder with inputs from a labour law consultant.

Industrial Relations

To promote cordial relations between the employers and the workers and to avoid any dispute between them, two important laws in this respect have been put in place- the Industrial Disputes Act 1947. These laws protect the rights of the workers and also address retrenchment and redundancy issues. 


To ensure that the workers get their rightful compensation for their work on time, Minimum Wages Act 1948 and Payment of Wages Act 1923 were promulgated. These Acts are applicable only on a certain class of employees. The state governments, under these laws, have the power to fix minimum wages for the specified categories of employees and have the responsibility to ensure strict implementation and ensure timely payment of wages.

Social Security 

One of the top priorities of the government is to provide social security to the workforce. To protect the workers against any mishaps and to ensure steady income after superannuation so that the workers can lead a decent life, provisions have been made through various social security laws, such as Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1952, Employees’ State Insurance Act 1948, and Payment of Gratuity Act 1972. These laws are subject to certain conditions, such as the minimum number of employees, number of years in service, wage, etc. 

Working hours and Service Conditions 

To ensure safe and hygienic working condition in factories and industrial establishments, and to stipulate maximum working hours and overtime, laws such as the Factories Act 1948, Industrial Employment Act, and Shops and Establishments Act are invoked. These Acts are subject to a minimum number of workers employed by an establishment. 

There are few other laws in this category that specifically address the issues of contract labour, migrant workers, employee compensation, plantation labour and mine workers.

Laws Relating to Women 

Though educated middle class women started working in large numbers very late, unskilled women workers have been present since very early days, and hence, specific laws relating to women employees have been in existence for a long time, as early as 1961 when the Maternity Benefit Act, that provides compulsory paid leave to an expecting mother, came into effect. In 1976, the Equal Remuneration Act was promulgated to encourage women employees and protect their rights. In 2013, to address the rising incidents of sexual harassment of women, the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act came into being.

Child and Bonded Labour

To curb the prevalence of child labour and bonded labour across the country, specific laws prohibiting such practice were enacted in 1986 and 1976 respectively. Anyone employing children under 14 is liable for punishment, as also those who forcefully engage bonded labour. 

There are numerous labour laws in India, and it can be very difficult for employers to adhere to them and meet compliance. It is, therefore, advisable that they seek advice from the top law firm in India or labour law consultant to avoid any trouble with the authorities. The above guide about labour law can also help employers in labour law compliance.

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Article Author Details

Amy Jones

Amy Jones is an expert legal advisor working at Ahlawat & Associates, a well-known top law firms in India. She is one of the foremost lawyers in India who loves to help people in all aspects of the practice area.