Rajya Sabha on 27 November 2014 passed the Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, 2014 by voice vote. The bill seeks to amend the Apprentices Act, 1961.
The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on 7 August 2014.
Main Highlights of Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, 2014
- It amends the definition of appropriate government to include an establishment operating in four or more states to be regulated by the central government.
- It amends the definitions of: (i) designated trade, (ii) graduate or technician apprentice, (iii) trade apprentice, (iv) industry and (v) worker and add two new definitions: (i) optional trade, and (ii) portal-site.
- It adds that the minimum age for apprenticeship in designated trades related to hazardous industries shall be 18 years although the Act sets the minimum age for being engaged as an apprentice at 14 years.
- It states that the hours of work and leave will be as per the discretion or policy of the employer. Earlier the hours of work and leave as per the Rules prescribe in the Act.
- The Bill specifies the amount/maximum amount of the fine and removes the provision for imprisonment for such offences. Earlier certain offences were punishable with imprisonment up to six months or with a fine (quantum unspecified) or both under the Act.
- It states that the central government shall prescribe the number of apprentices to be engaged by an employer for designated trade and optional trade. Earlier it was central government, after consulting the Central Apprenticeship Council (CAC) established under the Act shall prescribe the minimum number of apprentices.
- It permits multiple employers to come together, either themselves or through an approved agency (as against only themselves given in the Act), to provide apprenticeship training (as against practical training given in the Act) to apprentices under them.
- The Bill removes the requirement for Adviser’s approval for practical training to apprentices as was required under the Act.
- It specifies that basic training to apprentices can be provided in any institute with adequate facilities.
- It adds that proficiency test for apprentices may be conducted and certificates may be granted by other authorised agencies as well. This is in addition to the proficiency test conducted and the certificates granted by the National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT).
- The Bill states that powers to make rules to implement the Act shall include the power to make Rules retrospectively with effect from a date on or after the President grants his assent to the Bill. No Rule shall have a retrospective effect if it prejudicially affects the interests of any person to whom such Rule may be applicable.
The Apprentices Act 1961
The Act was enacted in 1961 and came into force in 1962. It was enacted for regulating the programme of training of employees working as apprentices in the company.
The Apprentices Act 1961 was first amended in 1973 through the Apprentices (Amendment) Bill 1973 for induction of graduate engineers as "Graduate" Apprentices. The Act was further amended through the Apprentices (Amendment) Bill 1986 to include training of 10+2 vocational stream as "Technician (Vocational)" Apprentices.