The four new labour codes — new wage code on wages, social security, industrial relations, and occupation safety, health and working conditions — are soon going to become a reality. Once implemented, under the social security code, the Employees’ State Insurance Scheme of India (ESIC) will be opened up for the unorganised sector workers also. Here’s about the ESIC and the new social security code:
What Is ESIC?
The ESIC Scheme, which is administered by a statutory corporate body called the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation, provides full medical care to the employee registered under the ESI Act, 1948 during the period of his incapacity, restoration of his health and working capacity. It provides financial assistance to compensate the loss of his/ her wages during the period of his abstention from work due to sickness, maternity and employment injury. The scheme provides medical care to his/her family members also.
The ESI scheme is a self-financing scheme. The ESI funds are primarily built out of the contribution from employers and employees payable monthly at a fixed percentage of wages paid. The State Governments also bear 1/8th share of the cost of medical benefit. Through a small contribution, the benefit of free treatment is available under hospitals and dispensaries of ESIC. Currently, it’s available for the organised sector workers only.
After retirement also, an Insured person who superannuates or retires under a voluntary Retirement Scheme or takes premature retirement, after being an insured person for not less than 5 years, shall be eligible to receive medical benefit for himself and his spouse subject to production of proof thereof, and payment of a nominal contribution of rupees one hundred and twenty for one year. In case the insured person expires his spouse shall continue to receive medical benefit on the payment of contribution.
ESIC and the New Social Security Code
Under the code, The doors of ESIC will now be opened for the workers of all sectors along with the workers of the unorganised sector. Expansion of ESIC hospitals, dispensaries and branches upto district level. This facility to be increased from 566 districts to all the 740 districts of the country.
Under the new code, even if a single worker is engaged in hazardous work, he would be given ESIC benefit. Gig workers engaged in new technology will also be given an opportunity to join ESIC. Apart from this, plantation workers will also get benefits of the ESIC. Institutions working in the hazardous area will be compulsorily registered with the ESIC.
Other New Benefits of Social Security Code
The benefit of pension scheme (EPFO) will be open to all workers of organised, unorganised and self-employed sectors. A social security fund will be created to provide comprehensive social security to the unorganised sector. The requirement of minimum service has been removed for payment of gratuity in case of fixed term employees, according to the new code.
Employees engaged on fixed term will also get same social security benefit as permanent employees, and a national database of workers of the unorganised sector will be created through registration on a portal.