Posted on: December 16, 2020 Posted by: admin Comments: 0

Author : Amartya, Student at Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh.


India stands on the second spot in terms of population in the world after china. As the population of the country is very high, the no. of labourers in the country is also very high. There were approx. 487 million labourers or workers in India as per 2012, which is the second largest in the world, here again China holds the top spot. Of 487 million labourers, 94% of the labourers work in unorganised, unincorporated ventures. 6% of the labourers work in organised sector. Organised sector includes labourers or workers employed by the government itself, state – owned ventures and private sector companies.  Labour in India makes reference to employment in the economy of the country.  The term ‘Labour’ basically refers to very hard work, especially physical or manual work.

  • Physical & Mental Labour :

Physical Labour can also be termed as Manual Labour. Physical labour means physical work done by the worker. In physical labour, physical strength & capacity of a worker is of high importance. Labourers associated with physical labour only are  generally daily wages workers. Interestingly in India, those who do manual or physical work only for wages are the people, generally considered as labourers & their work is considered as labour. Workers associated with different professions are generally not considered as labourers & their work is also not considered as labour. The condition of workers associated with physical labour, who work for daily wages or daily wages workers is very poor in India. They have been exploited by employers & high class society members since very long and there is no respect for these workers in the Indian society. One of the main objective behind enacting of Labour laws was to improve the condition of these workers & to protect their rights. Examples of workers associated with physical labour are : Construction workers, Rickshaw pullers, etc.

Mental labour means mental effort applied by the worker in a work. For e.g., In the profession of a Lawyer, Teacher, Banker, etc., there is requirement of mental labour.

  • Skilled & Unskilled Labour :

Skilled labour is that labour in which there is requirement of special knowledge, training, efficiency, etc. to perform the work. For e.g., The work performed by  Doctor, Engineer, Scientist, etc. comes under skilled labour.

Unskilled labour is that labour in which there is no any requirement of special knowledge, training, efficiency etc. to perform the work. For e.g., Rickshaw puller, Cookie, etc. We can consider Unskilled labour as a subset of physical labour as many things are similar in both types of labour.

  • Productive & Unproductive Labour :

According to Karl Marx, productive labour is that labour which produces surplus value & Unproductive labour is the labour which doesn’t produce surplus value. In other words, Labour that produces material products is productive labour & Labour that produces perishable products is Unproductive labour.


Labour laws are also known as Employment laws or Industrial laws. Indian labor laws make reference to laws regulating labor in the country. It defines the right of the workers in the course of employment. It deals with employment-related issues of labour. It also deals with the disputes between the employee or laborers and employer.

India has many labour laws to regulate labour within the country. For e.g., Laws prohibiting child labor in India, Laws prohibiting discrimination against the workers, Laws guaranteeing friendly working environment to the workers, Laws to provide social security to the workers & many more.

India’s government is federal form of government. Labour is mentioned as a subject in the concurrent list of the constitution of India, i.e., matters related to labour comes under the jurisdiction of central government as well as state government. Therefore, both central & state governments have made the laws to regulate labour in India. Some of the major relevant acts regarding labour laws are mentioned here:

  • Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 :

The main objective of this act was to compensate labourers who suffered personal injury in the course of employment. According to this act, employers are compelled to provide compensation to the workers who suffered injury which further led to disability or even death in the course of employment. This is one of the social security laws in the country.

  • The Trade Unions Act, 1926 :

A trade union is an organisation of a group of workers who aim to help the other workers, who are facing the issues related to fairness of pay, friendly working environment, working hours and other benefits that they must be entitled to instead of their hard work or labour. The objectives of The Trade Unions Act, 1926 was:

  1. To protect labourers or workers from exploitation by the employers.
  2. To improve the economic condition of workers by compelling the employers to pay better wages to the workers.
  3. To protect right of workers given to them under employment cause, in the course of employment.

The amendment of this act took place in the year of 2001.

  • Payment of wages Act, 1936 :

The payment of wages act of 1936 regulates the payment of wages to the labourers by the employers. It controls by when the workers will get their wages. This act guarantees the wages on time to the workers without any deduction in money except those authorised under the act. It also regulates the payment of wages for overtime work, i.e., rate of payment of wages to the labourers for working more than the scheduled time.

  • Industrial Employment Act, 1946 :

The main objective of Industrial Employment Act of 1926 is to require the employers in Industrial  establishments to define precisely the conditions of employment under them & submit draft standing orders for its certification to the authority. These orders mainly focus on removing flexibility in terms of job, working hours, productivity measures, leave grant to the workers, etc. from the hand of employers in Industrial establishments.

  • Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 :

The Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 addresses the disputes such as lockouts, layoffs, etc. between employers & employees in Industrial enterprises. This act also regulates the certain conditions that employer must obey before terminating the worker, who has been working in the industrial enterprise continuously for more than 1 year. The employer has also to give notice of termination to the worker as well as a copy of the notice to the government office asking government’s permission, mentioning valid reasons for termination of worker from the industry, and wait for at least one month before the employment of the worker can be lawfully terminated. Further, employer must pay the worker, an equivalent to average 15 days wages for each year, in which the worker has given his service to the employer. Thus, a worker who has worked for 3 years in the industry, must be paid a minimum amount of 45 days before the process of retrenchment, if the government gives the permission to terminate the worker from the job.

  • Minimum Wages Act, 1948 :

This act regulates the amount of wages given to the workers at workplaces. This act prescribes the minimum wages in all Industrial enterprises. The central & State government directs the minimum wages, which employer has to provide the worker. The minimum wages is further decided by nature of labour, location of labour, and several other factors at the choice of government. The range of minimum wage is Rupees 143 to 1120 per day for labour in the central sphere. State governments have their different range of minimum wage.


The condition of laborers in India, especially those who are associated with physical labor and unskilled labor, is very poor even today. The main objectives of labor laws were to guarantee the protection of laborer’s rights, save them from exploitation from employers at the workplace, give them friendly working conditions, etc., but even after labor laws are enacted, there is not much difference in the condition of laborers associated with manual & unskilled labor. They are still exploited by their employers in the course of employment, They don’t get wages in time at many places, Employers still make a deduction in the wages of workers, etc. These are the problems they face in the workplace. But, other than this, Our typical Indian Society also exploits the workers, mainly associated with manual & unskilled labor & these workers are not even respected by the people of our societies. These laborers are given the lowest place in the societies of India.

To Conclude, I hope that the Government will make some laws to protect the rights of low-class laborers in Indian society too. Also, the Government should make some important amendments in the current labor laws to improve the condition of workers at the workplace.

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