Article: The Indian Labor Code 2030? A futuristic vision and hope

Employee Relations

The Indian Labor Code 2030? A futuristic vision and hope

So what will India’s labour and employment scenario look like in 2030? Here’s one vision that we can look and work forward to.
The Indian Labor Code 2030? A futuristic vision and hope

Its 2030. India is now the most populated and labor-intensive country in the world!

Robots have taken over in India…albeit only the regular, menial, routine tasks. Designer babies at home, driverless electric cars & bikes on the road, drones in the sky, are the norm. The Indian economy is fully digitized. Other countries have started receiving FDI from India. Foreign companies list on Indian stock exchanges. Indian cryto-rupee, the world’s strongest currency, is used for international trade. The first trillion-rupee company is Indian. The upcoming Avengers 2030 game has primarily Indian cast. The 2032 Olympics will be held in India. India is finally at # 1 in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business survey. And the list goes on…

So what will India’s labor and employment scenario look like in 2030? Here’s my vision as I time travel and go back to the future!

India has further consolidated its 4 labor codes and implemented only one labor code - the Indian Labor Code 2030 (Labor Code). The Labor Code not only covers all forms of employee arrangements but also contract labor, consultants, retainers, apprentices, interns, gig & platform workers etc. Thanks to the Labor Code, unemployment in India is a myth.  

The services sector remains the largest employment generating workforce and contributes over 75% of India’s GDP. The Labor Code contains specific provisions to address the needs of that sector. There is no longer any confusion on whether a technology company is an industrial establishment or whether a techie is a worker. 

Thanks to the Labor Code, the employer-employee relationship continues to constantly thrive and break new frontiers. A 3-page document (which can be digital signed and maintained) with colourful pictures and video links has replaced the 25-page employment contract and 100-page employee handbook. Litigation under the Labor Code is online and concluded within 6 months.

India is no longer a 9 to 6 job economy. While employees have a right to disconnect, they have voluntarily chosen to remain connected in a globalized world! Bots have replaced offices. Tele-working, flexi-working, remote working, etc. are common across workplaces. Infact, India has become the hub of new age employment practices. India exports best HR practices.

Its not just about a workman becoming a worker. The provisions of the Labor Code are completely gender neutral. For example, the (erstwhile) law on prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace protects not just women but also men and LGBTIQ. Pay equity has finally been achieved in India. 

The Labor Code focuses on ensuring employee health, safety, welfare, well-being and social security. Employers can choose private health insurance coverage although most prefer to continue with the world-class ESI administered hospitals.

Not just reverse brain drain, but there is a constantly increasing demand of foreigners to work in India. Our immigration regime for work visas remains supportive. India has realized that its economy will continue to grow by attracting and retaining talent from world over. Several countries are wanting India to sign social security agreements.

Performance evaluation is no longer annual - there is real time feedback thanks to technology. Companies are truly merit driven and performers are rewarded instantly. HR’s role has progressed towards building culture, promoting ethics and making the organisations a better place to work. The entire ecosystem supports and encourages entrepreneurship, innovation and internal venture capitalism.

The employment relationship has become trust-based. The Labor Code does not specify annual leave or work hours. In fact, employers are no longer tracking annual leave. Parental leave is 52 weeks - not just maternity but also paternity leave - a strong message that starting a family is equal responsibility.

Employee data privacy provisions have become relevant, progressive and realistic - an example for the world to follow. Data localization is no longer mandatory and infact does not matter since most leading companies are India headquartered. Aadhaar has become the single source of employee identification.

Compliances under the Labor Code are fully online. Employers can self certify. Labor inspectors have truly become facilitators. There is significant harmony between employers and trade unions - it is no longer an us v. them mindset.

It's an easy come, easy go environment. There is no longer a need for government approval to close down an establishment - instead, notice period and severance amounts have been enhanced to compensate for job loss, there is unemployment insurance and health benefits continues until new employment.

Coming back to the present, the country needs to continue to focus on labor reforms and strike the right balance between the employer and employee interests. The journey will need to involve all stakeholders including the labor unions by building a mindset that we are all equal partners in India’s growth story. 

Plus Ultra (+U), a fictional secret society featured in the Hollywood movie Tomorrowland, comprised of the greatest minds throughout history. Their motto is "Cras es Noster" which means "Tomorrow is Ours". By creating Tomorrowland, members hoped to build a technologically and scientifically advanced world without hindrance or interference. Put our country’s best thinkers together and a comprehensive and futuristic labor code can soon become a reality. Its time to put aside our differences and self-interest, and focus on progress and innovation. Hopefully that journey begins now.

The above ideas are just an indicative list. It's time to reimagine a global India. The need of the hour is a brave new labor law for a brave new India.


This article was first published in May 2021.

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Topics: Employee Relations, #GuestArticle

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