Retailers Association of India had a productive meeting with Mr Shankar Agarwal - Hon'ble Labour Secretary, Government of India, on 7 July 2015.
The following points were discussed during the meeting:
Practical problem in payment of ESI contribution and Return:
- RAI delegates explained the practical difficulty retailers face in payment of monthly ESI and Returns. As per the new IT system, it is required to pay monthly ESI contribution by preparing/generating separate challans for each city. We reasoned that instead of paying contributions under several challans, paying contributions in one challan at Head office level will save considerable time of the employers/ESI/Bank and will also avoid the maintenance of large number of challans, every month. The System should permit retailers having a pan-India presence to submit a consolidated return i.e. with payment done in a single challan. Labour Secretary assured to resolve this issue.
- As suggested by the Secretary, the RAI delegation also met the ESIC Director General - Mr Deepak Kumar and Mr Sanjay Sinha, ESIC Director - ICT, who assured that the entire programming procedure shall be changed and the problem regarding generation of multiple challans shall be resolved within a period of 7 working days.
Advisory to all the states to allow retailers to keep retail stores open 365 days in a year:
- It was discussed that every State Government has its own act governing the Shops and Establishments in its purview. All these State Legislations have the restrictions on the opening of retail stores throughout the year. There is no provision with regards to exemption from weekly closure. Over the period, the dynamics of the economy has changed and Shops are required to remain open on all the 7 days of the week to cater to the growing working class. Some progressive States like Delhi, Maharashtra, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh have liberalized the rules and granted exemption.
- The Secretary and the Joint Secretary - Mr Manish Gupta, understood our concern and we were asked to submit the representation on 365 days to Joint Labour Secretary. It was assured that Central advisory shall be issued in this regard by the Labour Ministry to all the states.
Recognition of part-time workers:
- RAI delegation also had a brief discussion on enabling part-time employees in retail stores. So far, the concept of part-timers is prevalent only in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
- The Hon'ble Secretary assured that they would look into this issue and asked RAI to submit a detailed note on the same.
The meetings ended on a positive note and both, the Labour ministry and ESIC officials, confirmed that they will work on the issues raised and provide an immediate solution.