In the backdrop of the outbreak of COVID-19, to support unorganized construction workers who sustain their livelihood on daily wages, an advisory  has been issued by the Ministry of Labour and Employment to all the States/UTs to use Cess funds for Welfare of Construction Workers.

More about the news: 

  • In the advisory, under Section 60 of the Building  and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996 all State Governments/UTs have been advised  to transfer funds in the account of construction workers through DBT mode from the Cess fund collected by the Labour Welfare Boards under the BOCW Cess Act. 
  • About Rs 52000 crore is available as cess fund and about 3.5 crore construction workers are registered with these Construction welfare Boards.

BOCW (Regulation Employment and Conditions of service) Act, 1996 and BOCW Welfare Cess Act, 1996:

  • Objective: These acts were enacted with a view to regularizing the wages, working conditions, safety and for their health, welfare measures, etc. 
  • Application: The Acts apply to every establishment which employs 10 or more workers
  • Source of fund: 
    • The major source of the fund to the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board is the collection of cess at the rate of one percent of the const of construction incurred by the employer under the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996. 
    • This cess is collected by States.
    • The fund has to be utilized for the welfare of such workers. 
  • Implementing agency: 
    • The Central Government is the implementing agency in the central sphere for the purpose of enforcement of various provisions of the Act.
      • While States are the implementing authority under the State sphere. 
      • The State Governments have to frame and notify rules, constitute Advisory Committees or Expert Committees and appoint various authorities for registration of workers, cess collection, inspection and Appellate Authority. 
      • They have to constitute State Welfare Boards as well.

The matter of slow progress of implementation of these Acts has been raised at various fora. As a result, a Task Force and the Central Advisory Committee constituted by the central government recommended that certain provisions of these Acts require amendments. Accordingly the Central Government decided to carry out amendments in these Acts.

The Building and Other Construction Workers Related Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2012: 

  1. This amendment will streamline the process of the registration of the construction workers. 
  2. The State Welfare Boards will be able to consolidate their finances and incur expenditure on administrative and other purposes for smooth functioning of the Board. 
  3. The amendments will facilitate speedy implementation of these Acts by the Central and the State Governments.

The bill, waiting for the assent of the parliament of India, lapsed with the 15th Lok Sabha.

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