The ancient Vedic hymn elaborated the concept or social security by
wishing everyone to be prosperous, happy, healthy, bright future and without any
grief, which is based on human dignity and social justice. International Labour
Organization (ILO) defined the social security as:
That security that society
furnishes, through appropriate organization, against certain risks to which its
members are exposed; thus, ‘social security’ is a protection extended by the
society to its members, through adequate & appropriate institutions, against
certain risks including ignorance, want, disease, squalor and un-employment.
Generally, the above protection is provided through three major ways viz.,
compensation, restoration and prevention.
Article 41 of the Constitution of India, states that the State
shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make
effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public
assistance in case of un-employment, old age, sickness and disablement in other
cases of undeserved want .
In United Kingdom, the first statutory provision for the payment of old age
pensions, financed through taxation, to certain groups of employees was made in
1908, thereafter, many acts have been passed to strengthen the social security.
The terms social security was first officially recognized by the United State
by way of ‘The Social Security Act 1938, although there had been several social
security policies available prior to this act but there was no codification of
social security before this act.
Though the concept of Social Security was
prevalent in other ways of public charity or religious acts, various relief
systems etc. yet due to rapid industrialization after World War II, this concept
emerged tremendously and accordingly several legislations have been enacted to
protect the social interest of workers across the world.
The concept of social security in India were negligible before the
independence, however, there had been several codifications of labour laws
containing pieces of social security measures available, such as Workman’s
Compensation Act 1923, The Trade Unions Act 1926, Payment of Wages Act 1936 and
Industrial Employment (Standing Orders Act 1946 etc.
independence the process of Industrialization started functioning speedily and
so as the requirement of effective implementation of social security measures
and accordingly various enactments have been passed by the parliament to
regulate the labour laws and enhance the scope of social security benefits to
needy workmen, as Industrial Dispute Act 1947, Employees State Insurance Act
1948, Minimum Wages Act 1948, Factories Act 1948, Coal Mines Provident Fund &
Bonus scheme Act 1948, Employees Provident Fund Act 1952, Maternity Benefits Act
1961, Payment of Bonus Act 1965, Family Pension Scheme 1971, The Payments of
Gratuity Act 1972 and Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013 etc., in
addition to Labour Law Compliance Rules & Regulations for Collective Bargaining
For easy reference for coverage of social security legislations and
scope & nature of the work, the workers may be categorized as Organized Workers
and Un-organized workers. It is pertinent to point out that maximum numbers of
above legislations were useful and beneficial to the workmen working in
organized sectors, such as factories, mines & other organizations/institutions
having at least 10 workers, which contributes about only 7% of total working
population in India and these enactments do not include the unorganized
sectors which are owned by individuals or self-employed workers
and engaged in the production or sale of goods or providing service of any kind whatsoever, and where the enterprise
employs workers, the number of such workers is less than ten and interestingly
comprising of total working population around 93%.
These unorganized workers may
be Agriculturist labour, labour working on contract in any of the field
(including construction), casual labour, labour working in organization of small
scale industries having total working strength below ten, labour working in
shops, establishment & tanneries, or self employed workers including any person
who is not employed by an employer, but engages himself or herself in any
occupation in the unorganized sector subject to a monthly earning of an amount
as may be notified by the Central Government or the State Government from time
to time or holds cultivable land subject to such ceiling as may be
notified by the State Government etc.
The unorganized workers mostly engaged as
home based workers, street vendors, mid-day meal workers, head loaders, brick
kiln workers, cobblers, rag pickers, domestic workers, washer men, rickshaw
pullers, landless labourers, own account workers, agricultural workers,
construction workers, beedi workers, handloom workers, leather workers, audio-
visual workers and similar other occupations.
Un-organized workers may be a wage worker who has been employed for remuneration in the unorganized sector,
directly by an employer or through any contractor, irrespective of place of
work, whether exclusively for one employer or for one or more employers, whether
in cash or in kind, whether as a home-based worker, or as a temporary or casual
worker, or as a migrant worker, or workers employed by households including
domestic workers, with a monthly wage of an amount as may be notified by the
Central Government and State Government, as the case may be.
The Un-organized Worker’s Social Security Act:
The various studies had been conducted in respect of unorganized
workers regarding prolonged working hours, inhuman working conditions and lack
of social security benefits through government agencies as well as private
agencies/NGOs. The political leadership and labour welfare agencies, after
examination of working conditions of the unorganized workers opined that an
effective legislative tool is necessary for the social security interest of the
workers of un-organized sectors.
In terms of policies of International Labour
Organizations and provisions of the Constitution of India to extend the social
security benefits to the workers of unorganized sectors the parliament has
passed an act
to provide for the social security and welfare of unorganized workers and for other matters connected
therewith or incidental thereto in the name and title of ‘The
Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008’. This is the very important
legislation enacted for the welfare of the un-organized workers.
‘The Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008’ empowers the
government to formulate, notify and implement the following main social security
schemes for unorganized workers on matters relating to:
- life and disability cover
- health and maternity benefits;
- old age protection; and
- provident fund
- employment injury benefit;
- educational schemes for children;
- skill upgradation of workers;
- funeral assistance
- old age homes and
- Any other benefit as may be determined by the Central Government.
The Unorganized Workers Social Security Act also made it
mandatory to the Central Government to constitute a National Social Security
Board under the chairmanship of Union Minister for Labour and Employment and
also authorized the State Government to constitute a State Social Security Board
under the chairmanship of Minister of Labour and Employment of the concerned
State and these boards are assigned for effective implementation of ‘the
unorganized workers social security act. The record keeping functions for the
purpose of the act assigned to the District Administration and the State
Government may direct that the record keeping function shall be performed by:
Eligibility of un-organized workers for Social Security Benefits:
- the District Panchayat in rural areas; and
- the Urban Local Bodies in urban areas.
Every un-organized worker who has completed 14 years of age may apply
for registration to the District Administration to take the benefits of social
security measures of the above act, thereafter,
the unorganized worker shall be registered and issued an identity card by the District Administration which shall be a smart card carrying a unique identification number and shall
If a scheme requires a registered unorganized worker to make a contribution, he or she shall be
eligible for social security benefits under the scheme only upon payment of such
where a scheme requires the Central or State Government to make a contribution, the Central or State Government, as the case may be, shall make the contribution regularly in terms of
Relevance of Social Security Measures for Un-organized Workers:
It has been recently observed during first national lock down in
2020 due to pandemic Covid 19 that the workers of unorganized sectors were in
immense need of various social security schemes in addition to those already
mentioned in the act. Un-precedented migration of workers in huge numbers made
the government machinery to hardly function smoothly and efficiently. The
epidemic Covid almost stopped the effective functioning of whole country and the
unorganized workers are the main sufferers.
Though the Central Government
released huge packages to relax the situations but due to non-availability of
effective, dedicated & distinguished machinery for granting social security
benefits to the unorganized workers there might be lakhs of unorganized workers
who could not take any relief during this epidemic period.
It is apparently
clear that had there been a dedicated mechanism under the act the migrating
unorganized workers could had been granted more social security relieves.
Therefore, the enhancement of the scope of The Un-organized Workers Social
Security Act is much more relevant in present context as in above conditions
economic, social, housing & health facility can be extended to unorganized
workers more rapidly through effective implementation of the above act.
Secondly, the Un-organized Workers Social Security Act is relevant to reduce the
pain and sufferings of the unorganized workers. It may be called as the ill fate
of the unorganized workers to work prolonged hours and sometime forced to
migrate to another place in search of work. As unorganized workers are neither
skilled nor having organizational powers therefore there may be instances when
they have to work in hazardous situations and without much social security
measures that too when these unorganized workers contribute tremendously in
Gross Domestic Product. There are hardly any facility available to the workers
of unorganized sectors to grant them social security, such as Medical Health
Insurance, Life and disability cover, Maternity benefits, Old aged protection,
provident fund, housing, education for children and other miscellaneous expenses
required to live with human dignity, therefore, law remains an effective tool to
grant above social security benefits to the unorganized workers.
The Unorganized Worker’s Social Security Act can become an efficient instrument
to reduce the social problems of the unorganized workers by providing them
social security. Some of major social security measures formulated and
implemented by the government for un-organized workers are Indira Gandhi National
Old Age Pension Scheme, National Family Benefit Scheme, Janani Suraksha Yojana,
Handloom Weavers’ Comprehensive Welfare Scheme,
Handicraft Artisans’ Comprehensive Welfare Scheme,
Pension to Master craft persons, National
Scheme for Welfare of Fishermen and Training and Extension, Janshree Bima Yojana.
Aam Admi Bima Yojana and Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana etc.
Recently, Government of India has recently introduced a pension scheme for
unorganized workers namely Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan (PM-SYM) to
ensure old age protection for Unorganized Workers who are not covered under New
Pension Scheme (NPS), Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme or
Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) and also he/she should not be an
income tax payer. Thus, it appears that government is continuously though slowly
formulating and implementing new social security measures for the welfare of
The unorganized work force has been adversely affected by the
conditions owing to nationwide lockdown. Due to migration of the unorganized
work force the cost of labour increased and available supply of the work force
was is not able to cater the demand, therefore, there are instances of hindrance
in chain supply management in almost all sphere of economy, thus, there is
immediate need to widen the scope of The Unorganized Workers Social Security
to cover the available needs of the workers in un-organized sectors for the
purpose of ensuring their availability for the work for smooth, effective and
efficient functioning of all economical & social activities. To boost the
economy it is felt necessary to execute the Unorganized Workers Social Security
Act. As informal employment has been one of the central features of the labour
market of unorganized workers in India.
While the unorganized sector contributes
around half of the GDP of the county, its dominance in the employment front is
such that more than 90% of the total workforce has been engaged in the informal
economy. As per the latest estimation of a Sub-committee of the National
Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS), the contribution
of unorganized sector to GDP is about 50%.
The Unorganized Worker’s is very oftenly affected by excessive
seasonality of employment especially in the farming sectors, preponderance of
casual and contractual employment, a typical production organizations and work
relations, absence of social security measures and welfare legislations,
negation of social standards and worker rights, denial of minimum wages etc.
compound the adverse affect upon performance and social benefits of unorganized
With rapid growth of technology and realm of globalization, creating
an environment for optimum utilization of workforce without involving much
resource and the most suitable means is the unorganized workers who are cost
effective too. The alarming expansion of informal sector, in recent times, has
adversely affected employment and income security for the larger majority of the
workforce, along with a marked reduction in the scale of social security
Therefore, enhancement of the scope of social security measures under
the Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, need to be of utmost importance
especially it is more relevant in present context during after effects of
lockdown situation. However, there are several limitations for effective
implementation of the Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act.
Limitations & Suggestions:
‘The Unorganized Workers Social Security Act’ meant for social
welfare of the unorganized workers, however, it has following limitations which
can be overcome through implementation of measures as are suggested:
- Registration process is too formal for a less educated worker; hence,
registration of Unorganized workers may be done through online or at
nationalized banks or post office also in addition to present district
- The Smart Identity Card of Un-organized worker be recognized across the
country and to avoid its misuse and avail benefits of the act, it may be
linked with Aadhaar card of the worker.
- The workers of unorganized sectors, both below poverty line or above
poverty line, may be covered under the social security benefits of the
unorganized workers social security act, the contribution and other
conditions may be formulated as per the economical standard of the worker.
As presently, this act enables the Central and State governments to
formulate certain schemes for the welfare of the unorganized workers who
fall in the below poverty line (BPL) category, thus, the Schedules of the act
may be amended accordingly.
- Since unorganized workers do not have authorized organizations to
represent them before appropriate forum regarding health issues, insurance
issues, low wages issues, nonpayment issues, delay in payment etc., hence,
an appropriate forum which is easily approachable by the workers, may be
constituted in addition to present district level administrative
authorities, furthermore, to ease the situations a mechanism for redressal of grievances through online portal may be
introduced in urban areas and in rural areas the same may be done through
panchayat authorities etc
- Presently there is no penal measures provided in the act to the
authority for unorganized workers against any abuse or misuse by anyone
during course of his employment, thus, penalty clause may be incorporated in
the act for effective functioning of the act.
- Regular monitoring of working environment of unorganized working sectors
may be effected through periodical checks and inspection by district
authority especially in case of harassment or torture or working in inhuman
conditions is reported by the workers.
- Presently, the un-organized workers social security act the legal rights
of the unorganized workers are not clearly given, instead of this act is
based on directive principles, therefore, enforcement through proper court
is difficult, hence, clear provisions confirming the rights of the workers
may be incorporated in the act to enhance effective implementation of the
- The Un-organized Workers Social Security Act does not make it mandatory
for the government to introduce new welfare schemes. It unfairly divides
unorganized workers into those below the poverty line and those above, and
is silent on a national minimum wage, improving working conditions and the
problems of women workers like unequal pay and harassment at workplace,
thus, the act needs to be amended to include unorganized workers of both the
category i.e., below poverty line and above poverty line; and necessary
provisions, penalties, punishment etc may be included against unequal pay
and harassment at workplace.
The social security schemes for un-organized workers are of vital
importance, since they affect directly the work force engaged in unorganized
sectors comprising of more than 90% of total workforce thereby having direct
impact on GDP of country, which is one of the valuable scales to measure the
development of the economy. The global working environment has drastically
changed after the prolonged lock-down which is more concerning factor for the
In view of the prevailing labour conditions it has become
very much necessary to incorporate the aforesaid suggestions in ‘The
Un-Organized Worker’s Social Security Act, 2008’ for effective and efficient
implementation of the act.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Kapil Kishor Kaushik
Authentication No: JU34317022968-8-0621
Note: The contents of above article are for information only and not for any
commercial use or reference or solicitation of work or legal advice/opinion.