Labour Law reforms: Nobody knows who’s a ‘worker’ under Indian laws! Do you?

India not only lacks an accurate estimate of its work force, a substantial part of which is in the informal sector (85% of all workers), it is yet to develop an uniform definition for several critical concepts like workers, wages, organised-unorganised or formal-informal sectors, small and medium enterprises etc to enable such estimation. This hampers a realistic assessment of the ground realities and policy and planning to address key constraints while attempting labour reforms. In 2017, when the country was debating on the state of unemployment, the Niti Aayog’s Report of the Task Force on Improving Employment Data commented that this discussion was “taking place in a vacuum” because the available estimates were either outdated or based on surveys with design flaws that rendered them unsuitable for inferring a nationwide employment level or compare one set of data with another. Nothing much has changed now that the debate has shifted to labour reforms


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