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Rajya Sabha passes bill to amend Apprentices Act

PTI 26 Nov 2014, 23:39:31 PM IST

New Delhi:  A bill seeking to remove imprisonment as punishment for violating the provisions of the Apprentices Act, 1961 and allowing employers to fix the hours of work and leave as per their discretion or policy was passed by Rajya Sabha today.

The Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was passed by voice vote with a majority of speakers favouring the legislation, saying it is aimed at enhancing the skills of youth and make them employable.

It had been passed by the Lok Sabha in the last session.

Some members, however, had reservations saying certain provisions in the bill are “draconian” as employers have been given full powers to deal with apprentices in any manner.

Replying to the debate, Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said the bill was being brought to implement the Apprenticeship Policy by March 2015 which will help provide skills to youths in the country and make them employable.

He said the government has brought the policy keeping transparency in view and it will involve all stakeholders.

Earlier, Satish Chandra Misra (BSP) said the government should not give so much power to the employers to deal with apprentices in any manner. “Don't make such provisions which are draconian or do away with the penal provisions,” he said.

Naresh Agarwal (SP) and CPI(M) members Tapan Sen and P Rajeeve also made some observations on providing protection to apprentices and said the penalty of Rs 500 was not adequate deterrent for employers on violating the Act.

The bill seeks to amend certain definitions, increases the minimum age for apprentices in hazardous industries and removes imprisonment as a punishment for violating provisions of the Act.

The bill also seeks to provide apprenticeship training to non- engineering graduates and diploma holders, and new trades, including IT-enabled services, would be included in the scheme, allowing more employers to participate in training and employment of such workers.

The bill empowers employers to formulate their own policies for recruiting apprentices and providing for exchange of information through a web-portal. The employers can also undertake training of new courses which are demand based.

The provisions include making apprenticeship responsive to youth and industry, increasing skilled labour, easing of rules for employers to recruit apprentices and allowing them to undertake demand-driven courses.

The central government will also be empowered to make rules with regard to qualification, period of apprenticeship training, holding of test, grant of certificates and other conditions relating to apprenticeship in optional trade.