According to the minister, the Assam Shops and Establishment (Amendment) Bill, 2022 aims to eliminate licencing bureaucracy while also improving working conditions, creating more job opportunities, and creating a favourable business environment.
In a meeting held on December 19, 2022, the Assam Cabinet decided to introduce the Assam Shops and Establishments (Amendment) Bill, 2022′ to improve workers’ working conditions.
On the first day of the Winter Session, the Minister of Labour Welfare, Sanjay Kishan, tabled the bills in the Assam Assembly, noting that the proposed amendments have been presented to decriminalise labour laws by introducing civil penalties.
“The rationale behind decriminalisation is that imprisonment is too severe a consequence for economic offences that do not involve mala fide,” he said in a similarly worded Statement of Objects and Reasons in all ten bills.
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 offenses, is a major reason for low business investment,” Kishan said.
“This will relieve employers from fear of imprisonment while protecting the rights of the workers,” claimed the minister.
The bills that have been tabled are: ‘The Minimum Wage (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 introduced 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 Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) (Assam Amendment) Bill, 2022.