The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979

Aimed at eliminating the various forms of abuses prevalent in the system, the ‘Compact Committee’ set up by the Ministry of Labour in 1977 analysed the conditions of inter-state labourers and suggested the formulation of a separate central legislation. The Indian Parliament enacted ‘The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979’ to regulate the employment of inter-state migrant workers and address other related issues that negatively impact their welfare. The central rules for the Act were later framed in 1980.  

Key highlights 

According to Section 1(4), this Act applies to: 

  1. Every establishment in which five or more inter-state migrant workers (whether or not in addition to other workers) are employed or who were employed on any day of the preceding twelve months; 
  1. To every contractor who employs or has employed (whether or not in addition to other workers) inter-state migrant workers on any day of the preceding twelve months. 

Section 2(e) of the Act outlines the meaning of the term ‘inter-state migrant workman’. As per the definition, only those migrant workers who are employed through contractor will be treated as an inter-state migrant worker. 

Section 4 highlights the duty of the principal employer to send their application to the registering officer for the registration of the establishment. Principal employer refers to 

  • Office/Department Head in relation to any Government or local authority office/department 
  • Owner/occupier/manager in relation to a factory  
  • Owner/agent/manager in relation to a mine 
  • Person responsible for the supervision and control in relation to any other establishment 

Registration of an establishment is mandatory under the law for recruitment of any inter-state migrant worker. 

Section 5 outlines that any application for registration certificate can be revoked in case of any misrepresentation or suppression of material fact or for any other relevant reason because of which the registration has become useless. Section 6 of the Act states that without being registered under the Act, a principal employer can not employ any inter-State worker. 

According to Section 12(b) of the Act, a contractor is under duty to issue every inter-state migrant worker with a passbook, which has a passport-size photograph of the worker and information about the worker, including wages, advances paid, etc. in Hindi and English and in the language of the worker (in case their native language is not Hindi). 

Under Section 13 of the Act, an inter-state migrant workman shall in no case be paid less than the wages fixed under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 (11 of 1948). The Section also states that wage rates, holidays, hours of work, etc. for similar nature of work should be same for all genders.  

Section 14 outlines that a contractor is responsible to pay displacement allowance equal to 50 percent of the monthly wage to the migrant worker or 75 rupees, whichever is higher at the time of recruitment. 

Section 15 of the Act states that “A journey allowance of a sum not less than the fare from the place of residence of the inter-State migrant workman in his State to the place of work in the other State shall be payable by the contractor to the workman both for the outward and return journeys and such workman shall be entitled to payment of wages during the period of such journeys as if he were on duty”. 

Section 16 of the Act holds the contractor who had employed the inter-state migrant worker to be responsible for regular payment of wages, to ensure equal pay for equal work irrespective of gender, to provide and maintain suitable residential accommodation (female migrant workers must be provided separate room), to provide prescribed medical facilities, and to provide protective clothing.  

As per Section 17(2), every principal employer shall nominate a representative duly authorized by them to be present at the time of disbursement of wages by the contractor and it shall be the duty of such representative to certify the amounts paid as wages in such manner and may be prescribed.