The unorganised worker's social security Act was enacted by the parliament of
India in 2008 by president's assent. It is implemented by the Ministry of Labour
and Employment. worker's sector. Recently, the honorary Supreme Court dismissed
the PIL filed by Shri R Subramanian which was seeking directions to compensate
the financial loss of the workers employed in the unorganised sector.
The persistence of Covid-19 pandemic has expedited the misery of India's working
population. It came to light that more than 90% of the Indian population is
employed in the unorganised sector and they neither have access to social
security nor minimum wages despite them contributing an approximate of 60% to
the Indian GDP.
Objective And Purpose
- The Act mentions about constitution of a National Social Security board
and State Social Security Board which will give recommendation for
formulation of suitable schemes which later shall be monitored and reviewed.
In Rajan Kudumbathil v. Union of India on 12 November 2009, the Kerala
government was directed to immediately constitute the State Social Security
Board as it was not established post the enactment of the act.
- The UWSS Act has laid down provisions wherein it registers and issues
a smart identity card with a unique number to the unorganised sector worker.
- The Record Keeping function will be performed by the District
- The Workers Facilitation Centres will disseminate the available data
on the social security schemes, facilitate the filing-processing and forwarding
of the registration application with the assistance of the district
- The act in its Schedule I has laid down a list of the Social Security
Schemes to ensure that the workers of the unorganised sector meet their basic
needs and that they have a decent standard of living.
The UWSS Act 2008 was implemented with the objective to ensure social security,
good wellbeing and to protect the unorganised sector workers from several
The importance of the act came to light in 2012 in National Domestic Workers Welf. v. State of Jharkhand & Ors
. wherein it was highlighted that the current
labour laws in force such as the Industrial Disputes Act, the Minimum Wages Act,
Maternity Benefit Act, the Workmen's Compensation Act, Factories Act, etc. are
applicable to a restricted number of workers.
In India, the social security laws have derived their basis from Part IV of the
Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP). The Social security and Labour Laws
form a part of the concurrent list therefore both, the Central and the State
Governments are approved to make laws for the same. It is the obligation of the
state to lay down provisions which grant social security to organised as well as
unorganised sector workers.
Another purpose of the act is to ensure that the needs of the workers employed
in the unorganised sector are addressed as it contributes to the sustainable
economic growth in the country. Apart from Social security the needs include
availability of credit, upskilling, use of modern technology, infrastructure and
the requirement of a contractual obligation between the employer and employee.
Progress Made Under IT
The Social Security Schemes and Acts mentioned in the Schedule I and II of the
UWSS, 2008 are run by several different ministries. For instance, the Medical
care is been taken care by the Ministry of Health, Food Security by Ministry for
Agriculture etc. The budget allocation for the same is done by different
ministries creating a problem of multipliciy of benefits availed and suggests a
formation of a ministry of social security.
The National Social Assistance Programme which comprises of Indira Gandhi
National Old Age Pension Scheme under the UWSS has 4,02,56,984 people as
beneficiaries as of 14th June 2020. As an extension to the act, a National
Social Security Fund (NSSF) was constituted for unorganised workers in 2010 with
an initial funding of INR 1,000 crore.
Several schemes under the Act depend on State-level nodal agencies for
functioning of its Schemes and in times like the national health crisis these
labour laws and policies not only provide social security for the workers but
help the economy from deteriorating. Recently, the state of Uttar Pradesh
Pradesh Temporary Exemption from Certain Labour Laws Ordinance, 2020
shall suspend a majority of the acts and schemes under UWSS for a period of
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for additional legal safeguards
and welfare measures for the unorganised workers especially the migrant workers
and domestic workers as they are in dire need of social security more than ever.
The UWSS Act is a significant initiative taken by the government to address and
provide remedy to the plight of the workers engaged in unorganised sector for
the first time, the act has also enlisted several welfare schemes which can be
availed by the workers.
There are certain inadequacies in the act which complicates the implementation
process at the same time infringes rights of the unorganised workers. The scope
of the definition of unorganised workers
is narrow and excludes forest and
fish workers, domestic workers, cross-border provisional workers, and aanganwadi
It is important to note that, the act has not defined the term social security
and hence it is not justiciable. The act has laid down several social security
schemes but has not included them within the body of the act.
The Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 established a globally
accepted minimum standard social security benefit which covers the nine branches
of social security namely medical care, sickness, unemployment, old-age,
employment injury, family, maternity, invalidity and survivor's benefit. Yet,
the UWSS fails to provide for any minimum social security to its unorganised
The act places the unorganised workers in an odd position as, if they fail to
make the deposits in time, they are disentitled from the benefits without
considering the contingencies that come along which renders the process of
- The term social Security should be explicitly defined to make it
enforceable in court of law.
- Currently, the act is only applicable to unorganised workers who are
below poverty line and hence, should be made inclusive of all the unorganised
workers which will fulfil the purpose of the act.
- A chapter on dispute resolution needs should be appended to the Act to
make sure workers can file complaints about violations and seek remedy.
- An amendment should be made to add minimum social security benefits for the unorganised workers based on ILO standards.
- Create a comprehensive database of unorganised workers working in
sectors not covered by the act to provide them visibility.
Social security is an important part of the development at all the levels of the
existent society and leads it towards a better social and economic growth. To
enable these workers to gain maximum benefit from the schemes an effort must be
to make them aware of their rights.
The lack of proper implementation and
standard checks have made the schemes to remain on the papers as evidently, In
the light of the current pandemic and suspension of labour laws in few states
poses a grave question, whether India acknowledges the importance of the unorganised workers in the country?
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