The OSH Code has subsumed several key pieces of legislation on the working conditions of labour

  • The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970,
  • The Factories Act, 1948, etc.

The new codes are an exercise in ensuring a streamlining of the labour laws in the country. 



Contract labour” is a worker deemed to be employed in/in connection with the work of an establishment when he is hired for such work through a contractor.

  • This can be with or without the knowledge of the principal employer.
  • The definition excludes any worker (other than a part-time employee) who is regularly employed by the contractor for any activity of his establishment.
  • Such worker’s employment is governed by mutually accepted standards of conditions of employment and gets periodical increment in pay and other welfare benefits.


Employee” means a person employed on wages by an establishment to do any skilled, unskilled, manual, operational, supervisory, managerial, administrative, technical, clerical or other work.

  • The definition of employee has been made consistent in all the new codes, as well as the Code on Wages, 2019.


  • The OSH Code defines “employer” to be a person who employs, whether directly or through any person.

Otherwise, on his behalf, or on behalf of any person, one or more employees in his establishment.

  • This includes,  the person/authority which has the ultimate control over the affairs of the establishment and contractor.


An “establishment” is

(i) any place with ten (10) or more workers where any industry, trade, business, manufacturing or occupation is carried on; or

(ii) a motor transport undertaking, newspaper establishment, audio-video production, building and other construction work or plantation with ten (10) or more workers; or

(iii) factory in which ten (10) or more workers are employed; or

(iv) a mine or port or vicinity of port where dock work is carried out.


  • The OSH Code defines a “hazardous process” as any process or activity in relation to specific industries (set forth in Schedule I of the OSH Code).

Such places , unless special care is taken, raw/intermediate/finished/bye-products, etc., as the case may be, would:

Cause material impairment to the health of the persons engaged in or connected herewith; or

  • Result in pollution of the general environment.


For the purposes of the OSH Code, a “principal employer” is

(i) any person responsible for the supervision and control of the establishment where contract labour is employed or engaged; or

(ii) the owner or the occupier of the factory and where a person has been named as the manager of the factory, the person so named.


  •  “Wages“, as per the OSH Code, comprises all remuneration such as salaries, allowances or otherwise, expressed in terms of money.
  • Alternatively, capable of being so expressed which would be payable to a person in respect of his employment, whether express or implied, or

The work done in such employment and includes basic pay, dearness allowance and retaining allowance, if any.

The Occupational Safety Health And Working Conditions Code 2020 | UPSC


(a) bonus

(b) value of accommodation or light, water, medical attendance

(c) employer contribution towards any pension or provident fund

(d) conveyance allowance

(e) sum paid to employed person to defray special expenses

(f) house rent allowance

(g) overtime allowance and

(h) gratuity, etc.


  • The definition of “workers” under the OSH Code, while similar to the definition of “workmen” under the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act. 1971.

It excludes from its ambit any person who is employed in a supervisory capacity drawing a wage exceeding Rs. 18,000/– per month. 


Under the OSH Code, every employer is required to undertake the following:

  • Ensure that the workplace is free from hazards which cause or are likely to cause injury or occupational disease to the employees and comply with the OSH Code and the Government’s directions on the same

Provide free annual health examination or test, free of costs to certain classes of employees

  • Provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of the employees
  • Issue letters of appointments to employees
  • Ensure that no charge is levied on any employee for maintenance of safety and health at workplace including conduct of medical examination.


Every employee has the following rights under the OSH Code:

  • To obtain from the employer, information relating to employee’s health and safety at work .
  • If he has reasonable apprehension that there is a likelihood of imminent serious personal injury or death or imminent danger to health.
  • He may bring the same to the notice of his employer directly and simultaneously bring the same to the notice of the inspector-cum-facilitator.

The employer is required to take immediate remedial action if he is satisfied about the existence of such imminent danger

  • Send a report forthwith of the action taken to the inspector-cum-facilitator in such manner as may be prescribed by the Government.
  • If the employer is not satisfied about the existence of any imminent danger as apprehended by his/he employees, he shall, nevertheless, refer inspector.
  • The matter forthwith to the inspector-cum-facilitator whose decision on the question of the existence of such imminent danger shall be final.


The employer is required to provide and maintain welfare activities for employees as may be prescribed by the Central Government including

(i) adequate and suitable facilities for washing to male and female employees separately;

(ii) bathing places and locker rooms for male, female and transgender employees separately;

(iii) sitting arrangements for all employees obliged to work in a standing position;

(iv) adequate first-aid boxes or cupboards with contents readily accessible during all working hours; and

(v) any other welfare measures which the Central Government considers, under the set of circumstances, as required for decent standard of life of the employees.

Furthermore, the Central Government is entitled to prescribe for provision of, inter alia,

(i) cleanliness and hygiene

(ii) ventilation, temperature and humidity

(iii) adequate standard of humidification

(iv) potable drinking water

(v) adequate lighting

(vi) adequate standards to prevent overcrowding, etc.