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Guwahati: The Assam government on Tuesday introduced 10 labour law amendment bills related to private sector employees for diluting the criminal penal provisions in order to promote “ease of doing business”.

In all the bills, the punitive measure of imprisonment has been removed but the amount of fine has been hiked by several times.

Labour Welfare Minister Sanjay Kishan tabled the bills in Assam Assembly on the first day of the Winter Session and said the proposed amendments have been brought in to decriminalise all labour laws by bringing in civil penalties.

In a similarly worded Statement of Objects and Reasons in all the 10 bills, he said: “The rationale behind decriminalisation is that imprisonment is too severe a consequence for economic offences that do not involve mala fide.”

Legal process around an offence involving imprisonment “greatly increases the anxiety” among employers and reduced possibility of such processes leads to “improved ease of doing business”, he added.

“Criminal penalties, especially the risk of imprisonment, often unintentional offences, is a major reason for low business investment,” Kishan said.

He asserted that the idea is strong deterrent provisions with heavy fines will force employers to have watertight internal organisational and operational mechanisms to ensure that there are no lapses in compliance.

“This will relieve employers from fear of imprisonment while protecting the rights of the workers,” the minister claimed.

The tabled bills are The Minimum Wages (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022, The Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022, The Plantations Labour (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022 and The Industrial Disputes (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022.

Kishan also tabled The Beedi and Cigar Workers (Conditions of Employment) (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022, The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022 and The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022.

The Equal Remuneration (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022, The Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service) (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022 and The Payment of Gratuity (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022 were also introduced in the House.

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