The Industrial Relations Code, 2019 has replaced the previous laws namely The Industrial Dispute Act, 1947, The Trade Union Act, 1926 and The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946. Now the main features of this new code are as follows:

Trade unions: 

Seven or more members of a trade union can apply to register it.  Trade unions having membership of at least 10% of the workers or 100 workers, whichever is less, will be registered. 

Negotiating unions: 

The Code provides for a negotiation union in an industrial establishment for negotiating with the employer.  If there is only one trade union in an industrial establishment, then the employer is required to recognise such trade union as the sole negotiating union of the workers.  In case of multiple trade unions, the trade union with support of at least 75% of workers will be recognised as the negotiating union by the central or state government.

Unfair labour practices: 

The Code prohibits employers, workers, and trade unions from committing any unfair labour practices listed in a Schedule to the Code.  These include:

  • restricting workers from forming trade unions,
  • establishing employer sponsored trade union of workers, and
  •  coercing workers to join trade unions.

Standing orders:

The central government will prepare model standing orders on such matters, based on which industrial establishments are required to prepare their standing orders if the industrial establishments are having at least 100 workers. These matters relate to:

  • classification of workers,
  • manner of informing workers about hours of work, holidays, paydays, and wage rates,
  • termination of employment,
  • suspension for misconduct, and (v) grievance redressal mechanisms for workers.            

Notice of change: 

Employers who propose changes in the conditions of service related to wages, contribution and leave are required to give a notice to the workers.    

Lay-off and retrenchment: 

The Code defines lay-off as the inability of an employer, due to shortage of coal, power, or breakdown of machinery, from giving employment to a worker.  It also provides for employers to terminate the services of a worker, i.e., retrenchment.