‘Shram Suvidha’[i] is a web portal developed by the Ministry of Labour & Employment to facilitate a single window for compliance of Labour Laws in India. The portal is one among the five schemes which were inaugurated in October 2014 under a labour reform programme called ‘Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Shramev Jayate Karyakram’[ii], by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This programme is a part of the government’s call for ‘Minimum Governance and Maximum Governance’ in order to bring about greater transparency and speed in the system. It was stated by Prime Minister that, “We need to appreciate labour issues through the perspective of the labourers so that these can be understood and resolved with compassion.”[iii]
The objective of the web portal is to consolidate information of Labour Inspection and its enforcement. This leads to transparency and accountability in the inspections. The compliances are reported in Single Harmonised Form which makes it simple and easy for filing such forms. The performance is monitored using key indicators thus making the evaluation process objective. The web portal also has an Effective Grievance Redressal System. It promotes the use of common Labour Identification Number (LIN) or Shram Pehchaan Sankhya, by all implementing agencies. The portal facilitates ease of reporting at one place for various Labour Laws, consolidated information of Labour Inspection and its enforcement. Thus, the portal contributes proactively to achieve the objective of simplifying business regulations and bringing in transparency and accountability in labour inspections.
Working of the Portal
The portal initially catered to four major central labour organisations, namely, Office of the Chief Labour Commissioner, Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS), Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC). The State Governments had to join the portal subsequently and as of now atleast 12 states have shown their inclination to join the portal.[iv]
In this endeavour, complete information of 11 lakh units from the abovementioned organisations was collected, digitised and de-duplicated reducing the total number to 6-7 lakhs which were allowed to file online compliance for 16 out of 44 labour laws through a single form.
The employers are allotted Unique Labour Identification Number after registration on the web portal. The enforcement agency uploads the data of inspection on the web portal which gets updated periodically. With the LIN, the employer provides bank account linked with Aadhar Card number of the employees. So, the savings of the employee through EPFO automatically goes to the employee. This facility provides transparency besides accountability.
The portal also provides for filing of single harmonised annual return by the employers and online reporting of harmonised inspection report by the inspecting officials.
- Unique Labour Identification Number (LIN) will be allotted to Units, facilitating online registration.
- The Units will be required to only file a single consolidated Online Return, instead of separate Returns.
- The portal will provide for transparent Labour Inspection Scheme via computerized system as per risk-based criteria and uploading of Inspection Reports within 72 hours by Labour Inspectors.
- Timely redressal of grievances will be ensured.
The Ministry of Labour and Employment and the State Governments enforce more than 44 labour laws in their respective spheres. The compliance of these labour laws include filing of various returns in the prescribed forms and formats along with the prescribed fees, renewal of various registrations, reporting requirements to various labour law agencies etc. Thus, a timely compliance of the laws becomes a complex issue. Simplification of procedures relating to labour compliances was long standing concern for the industrial sector in India. The introduction of Shram Suvidha Portal enables such simplification and a step towards reducing bureaucracy for business operating in India.
The most important advantage of the portal is online registration of Units and filing of Self-Certified Single Online Returns. This will help to identify each and every unit with its unique number and would help to reduce the compliance burden on the industries, especially small and medium sized enterprises. The filing of a single consolidated online return, rather than filing separate returns for various labour compliances reduces a large amount of burden for the employer.
Another striking feature of the portal is that it would facilitate transparency and accountability by rationalising inspections and checking on the arbitrariness in compliance mechanism. Earlier, the returns were to be certified by officials and units for inspection were selected locally, without any objective criteria; allowing inspectors to harass unit owners and even exploit them in cases of violation. However, with introduction of Labour Inspection Scheme, the inspection lists would be made centrally and the list of inspectors would be generated randomly by computer. Every inspection would have an objective criteria and the report would have to be uploaded on the portal within 72 hours. This would end the arbitrariness of the inspection mechanism and would lead to an end of the much dreaded ‘Inspector Raj’.
The introduction of the portal along with other schemes is a step ahead in labour reform agenda of the government. With the advancement of technology, this scheme is the best possible way which the Government would have introduced so as to relieve the industries with burdensome procedure of labour law compliances, both at central and state levels. However, considering the large amount of labour compliances which have to be followed, the registration of each and every unit on the portal would take time. Also, not all the states have joined the portal till now. On the positive side, the Government recorded over 3.5 crore registrations on the Portal by November, 2014. Thus, the utmost utilisation of the portal would definitely lead to aN effective labour compliance mechanism in India.
[ii] Press Information Bureau, Government of India, Ministry of Labour and Employment, October 16, 2014.
[iii] ‘PM unveils labour reforms to make it easy to do business’, Hindu Business Line, October 16, 2014.
[iv] ‘More states to join Shram Suvidha Portal’, Deccan Herald, January 15, 2015.
About the Author
Rashmi Singh is a fourth year student of ILS Law College, Pune. Her interest areas are Constitutional Law and Intellectual Property Laws. She enjoys researching and has been associated as a researcher for various moot court competitions. She likes to read and paint in her free time.