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Female workforce under social security code 2020

Women's employment rates vary widely throughout nations due to differences in social standards, economic growth, education levels, childbearing rates, and availability of childcare and other supportive services. Because of this, participation rates differ greatly over the world, with some of the lowest rates seen in South Asia.

There are several mysteries revealed by South Asian trends in female labour force participation. The declining labour force participation of women in India, particularly in rural regions, stands out the most, especially with the country's robust economic growth and rising wages/incomes. It's crucial to comprehend these difficulties because , in many developing countries, women's participation in the labour force is a coping mechanism that emerges in response to economic shocks that hit the household.

Additionally, participation is a (imperfect) indicator of women's economic empowerment. Policy interventions should take into account both supply and demand in order to improve labour market outcomes in nations like India. These interventions should focus on increasing access to and the usefulness of education and training programmes, promoting childcare and other institutions/legal measures to lessen the burden of household duties, improving safety for women, and encouraging private sector growth in industries and regions that would increase job opportunities for women in developing nations.

The position of women in the workforce is still below average, notwithstanding the excitement around their empowerment in modern Indian society. Despite a progressive rise in the percentage of women participating in the labour force over the past century, the conditions in which they work are still generally exploitative.

The interests of women employees in our nation are safeguarded by the constitution and other legal measures. These clauses, as well as subsequent developments in this field, including legislative changes and other welfare initiatives, the issues that women face in relation to the work regulations of the nation are still present but their are various Labour Codes seek to consolidate a myriad of labor laws enacted by the Central Government over the years (most of which are confusing, and have multiple overlapping provisions), and also, to introduce certain amendments the following codes are:
  1. Code on Social Security Act, 2020
  2. Occupational Health and Working Conditions code, 2020 and
  3. Code on Wages, 2019.

Elements of social security:

The following seven elements of social security comprise its scope, as stated by the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention (No. 102) that the ILO adopted in 1952.
  1. Medical care:
    Later approved additions to this component include general practitioner care, preventative care, the administration of required pharmaceuticals on a prescription, professional prenatal and postnatal care, dental care, and medical rehabilitation.
  2. Sickness benefit:
    Through these recurrent payments, employees who were unable to work were taken care of, and in the event of death, the beneficiary was also entitled to burial expenses.
  3. Unemployment benefit:
    This social security benefit was intended to make up for lost wages while an employee was out of a job but was otherwise qualified and available for employment but was unable to secure a position that met their requirements. Only 13 weeks of compensation may be awarded annually, according to the Act.
  4. Age-related benefit:
    With this benefit, the amount paid depends on the recipient's capacity to work before retirement. After a particular age and until death, it also includes a specific amount.
  5. Family benefit:
    This offers timely payments or the provision of food, housing, clothing, and other necessities.
  6. Maternity benefit:
    The security provided by this benefit comprises hospital care when necessary, as well as prenatal and postnatal care provided by medical professionals. To ensure that the mother and child can maintain a reasonable level of living, additional cash assistance are also provided.
  7. Additional benefits provided by the ILO include the inability to work benefit, survivor's benefit, and injury sustained while working.

Goal of the Social Security code

Three categories can be used to group the goals of social security:
  1. Compensation:
    Compensation ensures stable income. This justification holds that during the era of contingency of hazards, the person and his or her family shouldn't be subjected to a double disaster, i.e., being left penniless and losing their health, limb, life, or employment.
  2. Restoration:
    It refers to getting well, getting back to work, and returning to one's previous state. It is an extension of compensation, in a way.
  3. Prevention:
    This strategy entails guarding against the decline in earning potential brought on by disease, unemployment, or infirmity. In other words, by making resources that are exhausted by avoidable disease and inactivity available, these policies aim to promote the community's material, intellectual, and moral well-being.

Social Security Code

Social security means the measures of protection afforded to employees, inclusive of unorganized workers, gig workers and platform workers to ensure access to health care and to provide income security, particularly in cases of old age, unemployment, sickness, invalidity, work injury, maternity or loss of a breadwinner by means of rights conferred on them and schemes framed, under the Code on Social Security, 2020.

The Code on Social Security ,2020 subsumes nine central labour, The Employees' Compensation Act, 1923, The Employees' State Insurance Act, 1948,The Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952, The Employment Exchanges (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act, 1959, The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, The Cine Workers Welfare Fund Act, 1981, The Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996 and the Unorganised Workers' Social Security Act 2008.

This Code makes provisions for numerous types of social security. This code incorporates, among other things, the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961, the Employees State Insurance Act of 1948, and the Employees Compensation Act of 1923. These laws essentially provided a number of social security benefits to women (in matters pertaining to maternity) and to employees who became disabled or ill while working, as well as subsidized medical care and reimbursement under certain circumstances to employees covered by this Code.

The provisions of social security, as they stand under the Social Security Code, provides: disablement benefit to all employees of any establishment with ten or more employees may get the disability benefit. An employee who falls under this heading and develops occupational sickness or has an accident while working is eligible for compensation from the government. One must demonstrate that the injury or accident is directly related to the accident in order to receive this benefit.

A "Medical Board" established under the Social Security Code is responsible for determining the degree of an employee's and the extent to which that disability results in a loss of earnings. Additionally, there is a clause that allows the medical board to increase compensation if an injured person's condition worsens over time.

It's interesting to note that there is a structure for appealing the Medical Board's decision, which will finally be heard by the Employees' State Insurance Court. The disability payment continues to operate exactly as it did under the prior law and the law outlined in the Social Security Code.

The government offers reasonable medical, surgical, and obstetric treatments through its network of hospitals and clinics established for this purpose, or through collaboration with other medical practitioners, at subsidized rates to the relevant employees and, in some circumstances, their families. This benefit is available to workers of factories, mines, plantations, and other establishments employing more than 10 people.

Maternity benefit under the code

Maternity benefits were previously available under the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948, and the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, but have now been combined substantially under the Social Security Code.

As per Section 2 of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 applies to:
  • every factory, mine or plantation including factories, mines and plantations belonging to the government
  • establishments where persons are employed for the exhibition of equestrian, acrobatic and other performances and
  • every shop and establishment employing ten or employees on any day of preceding twelve months
  • such other shops or establishments notified by the appropriate government.

The state government can declare that the Act applies to any other type of establishment (industrial, commercial, or otherwise), after receiving approval from the central government and giving two months' notice, this declaration will be published in the official gazette. Further, the Act specifies that nothing in (save Section s 5A and 5B) applies to establishments that are subject to the Employees State Insurance Act of 1984.

As per Schedule 1 of The Code on Social Security, 2020:
The maternity benefits set out in the code only apply to the above-mentioned points (1), (3), and (4), and not to places where people are hired to perform equestrian, acrobatic, or other activities. The Code also makes no provision for the state government to declare maternity benefits applicable to any establishment it considers appropriate.

Who can avail maternity benefits:
Every woman who has worked in an establishment for at least 80 days (including days for which she was laid off or public holidays) in the twelve months immediately preceding the date of her expected delivery is eligible for maternity benefits, according to Section 5(2) of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 and SECTION 60(2) of the Code on Social Security 2020.

While the Maternity Benefits Act of 1961 (as amended in 2017) does not cover the ambit of unorganised workers (leaving 95 percent of India's female workforce out), but, the Code on Social Security does, stating in Chapter IX that the Central Government shall frame and notify laws and welfare schemes pertaining to unorganized workers on matters such as life and disability insurance, health and maternity benefits, old age protection, education, and other benefits as the government sees fit. The Code also makes provisions for providing maternity benefits to gig and platform workers under Section 114.

Payments during maternity leave:
Every woman is entitled to and her employer is accountable for payment of maternity benefit at the rate of the average daily wage2 for the length of her actual absence under Section 5(1) of the Maternity Benefit Act3, 1961, and Section 60(1) of the Code on Social Security, 2020.

Furthermore, if the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948 applies to an establishment, women employees are still entitled to maternity benefits until they become qualified to claim maternity benefits under Section 50 of that Act, as per Section 5A of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 and Section 61 of the Code on Social Security, 2020.

Other benefits under the Code
According to Section 11 of the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 and Section 66 of the Code on Social Security, 2020, every woman who returns to work after giving birth is entitled to two nursing breaks (duration to be determined by the Central government) for nursing the child until the child reaches the age of fifteen years.

Every establishment with fifty or more employees must provide a cr�che facility, and women employees must be granted four visits per day to the cr�che facility, according to Section 11A of the Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 and Section 67 of the Code on Social Security, 2020. (including the interval of rest allowed to her)

According to Section 12 of the Act and Section 68 of the Code, an employer cannot dismiss a woman for being absent during her maternity leave (Except when the dismissal is for gross misconduct as prescribed by the Central government, then the employer may deprive her of maternity benefit, bonus or both.) If a woman is dismissed or denied maternity benefits while on maternity leave, she has sixty days from the date of the order to appeal to a competent authority, and the competent authority's decision is final, as per Section 12(2b) of the Act and Section 68(2) of the Code.

Strenuous work allocated to her under Section 4(3) of the Act and Section 59 of the Code, as well as nursing breaks under Section 11 of the Act and Section 69 of the Code, cannot be deducted from a woman's normal and usual daily salary.

According to Section 11(2) and Section 67(2) of the Act and the Code, every employer is required to inform women employees about the benefits available to them under the Maternity Benefits Act at the time of their hiring, as well as to post an abstract of maternity benefit provisions in a conspicuous place in every part of the establishment where women are employed, as per Section 19 of the Act and Section 71 of the Code.

Women have historically experienced exploitation and unfair treatment, and they currently struggle to preserve their place in this patriarchal culture. Therefore, it is necessary to provide the underprivileged minority some justifiable leverage. There is no doubt that women's decision to forgo returning to the workforce after having a child is significantly influenced by the availability of quality child care.

The new adjustment ought to be advantageous, but employers need to receive clear instructions as soon as is practical. The Social Security Act significantly contributes to demonstrating this argument. One of the factors contributing to women's dropping employment rates is the lack of awareness of their rights and the few legal options open to them. The Maternity Benefit Act of 1961 has undergone numerous amendments as a result of the legislature's genuine devotion to the lofty objectives entrenched in the Constitution.

Through a number of proactive judgements, the judiciary, for its part, has given the legal framework new life and enlarged the privileges and benefits available to female employees, particularly temporary workers.

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