The Ministry of Labour and Employment on Friday in a clarification stated that though the ministry is working on an incentive scheme wherein 7 weeks’ wages would be reimbursed to employers who hire female workers with wages up to Rs 15,000 and provide the maternity benefit of 26 weeks paid leave, it is still in the process of obtaining necessary budgetary grant and approvals. It denied that the scheme will be funded from Labour Welfare Cess, saying that “no such cess exists under this Ministry”.
The Labour Ministry statement added that the financial implication is estimated to be approximately Rs 400 crore for implementing the proposed scheme. “There are some media reports that this scheme has been approved/notified. However, it is clarified that the Ministry of Labour & Employment is in the process of obtaining the necessary budgetary grant and approvals of competent authorities. The reports that it will be funded from Labour Welfare Cess, is also incorrect, as no such cess exists under this Ministry,” the clarification said.
The clarification to not utilise the funds out of the Labour Welfare Cess comes a day after Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) Secretary Rakesh Srivastava said that it has been decided to utilise the funds lying in the Labour Welfare Cess to pay the employers. “The utilisation of the labour welfare cess lying with the state governments has been very less. After talks with the Labour Ministry, it has been decided that the seven of the 26 weeks of maternity leave for all women employees in the private and government sector getting more than Rs 15,000 a month would be paid from that fund,” news agency PTI had quoted Srivastava as saying.
The Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess (BOCW) Act provides for the collection of cess for construction workers by states/union territories. As per a Lok Sabha reply by Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar in March this year, approximately Rs 39,152 crore has been collected by the states/ UTs under the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, 1996, up to December 31, 2017, out of which Rs 10,123 crore has been spent. The unutilised amount of cess lying with the States/UTs as on December 31, 2017, is approximately Rs 29,029 crores.
Source: The Indian Express