The Apprentice (Amendment) Act, 2014

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The Apprentice (Amendment) Act, 2014 (Act no. 29 of 2014) has been provided to amend the provisions of Original Act i.e. The Apprentice Act, 1961 (Act no. 52 of 1961). The Amending Act of 2014 was given assent by the President of India on 5th December, 2014. The Original Act of 1961 was enacted with the object to regulate the programme of training of apprentices in the industry by utilising the facilities available therein for imparting on the job training. The Original Act was amended in 1973 and 1986 to cover the training of graduates, technicians and vocational technician apprentices, respectively under its purview. Moreover, the Original Act was further amended in the years 1997 and 2007 to amend various sections of the Act as regards definition of “establishment”, “worker”, number of apprentices for a designated trade and reservation for candidates belonging to Other Backward Classes, etc. However, the Employers were not satisfied with the provisions of the Act as are too rigid to encourage them to engage apprentices. As such, the Apprentice (Amendment) Bill was introduced and it was passed by Rajya Sabha on 27th November, 2014 and later by Lok Sabha on 7th August, 2014.

The Amending Act provides for amendment of the certain definitions including one of ‘appropriate government’ to include an establishment operating in four or more states to be regulated by the central government. Moreover, the new definitions are also provided in place of older ones, wherein the terms ‘Designated Trade’, ‘Graduate or Technician apprentice’ and ‘Industry’ have been defined with new meanings and replaced the older meanings thereof.

Other two terms are also been defined by this Amending Act viz. ‘Optional Trade’ and ‘Portal-site’ under new clauses (ll) and (lll) after the original clause (l) in the Act.

Further, the definition of the terms, ‘Trade Apprentice’ and ‘Worker’ is replaced with new ones. Term Trade Apprentice as per new meaning is an apprentice undergoing training in any designated trade. And term Worker was given meaning as those who working in the employer’s premises and employed either directly or through an agency, for wages.

The Amending Act provides for age of Eighteen years as minimum age for apprenticeship in the designated trades related to hazardous Industries by substituting a new clause (a) in Section 3 of the Original Act of 1961, however the minimum age for being engaged as an apprentice at 14 years.

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The Section 4 is amended by the Amending Act of 2014 by inserting a substitute sub sections in place of original Sub section (4). The new section provides that all the Contracts of Apprenticeship entered into by Employer and Apprentice should be sent to Apprenticeship Adviser within thirty days and thereafter the details of contract of apprenticeship should also be entered on the portal-site for verification and registration. Similarly, the new section i.e. Section 5A is provided with the view to provide qualification, period of apprenticeship training, holding of test, grant of certificate and other conditions relating to the apprentices in optional trade. Even other States apprentices can also be engaged in the work, as per new section 5B.

As per new section 8 as provided by the Amending Act, the Central Government is required to provide for number of apprentices who are to be engaged by the Employer for designated trade and optional trade. The section further provides that certain Employer can join together as per guidelines of the Central Government for providing apprenticeship training. Moreover, the Section 9 of the Original Act was amended for removing bar of approval from Apprenticeship Adviser in making arrangements by an employer, as to imparting a course of practical training to apprentice. The Original Section 9(3) makes provision for trade apprentices who have not undergone institutional training in the schools or otherwise, such apprentices are required to undergo a course of basic training before their admission in the workshops. The Amending Act provides one more condition in this regard by specifying that such basic training should be given to them in any institute which is having adequate facilities. Similarly, the Amending Act by replacing sub section (7) and (7A) of the Section 9, specifies that, the syllabus, equipments and programme of training and even facilities thereof, in case of apprentices not being graduate or technician or vocational technician apprentices, should be determined by the Central Government after having consultation with the Central Apprenticeship Council.

So far as the weekly and daily hours and leave policy is concerned, the section 15 of the Original Acts makes provisions in that regards. However, the Amending Act specifies that such policies as to Hours or works and leaves to be determined by the Employers and the same is to be followed. Moreover, Sections 19, 21 and 22 of the Original Act are also amended to provide effective provisions as updated.

Section 30 of the Original Act deals with penal provisions, however, the Amending Act newly provided an offence under this Act as, when an employer breaches any provisions relating to number of apprentices which such employer to engage, then he should be given a notice of one month by authorized officer, requiring him to explain the reasons thereof. And if he fails to give reasons thereof, then he should be imposed certain fines as prescribed. Further, in sub section after amending certain provisions thereof, the Amending Act provides for fine in place of imprisonment as has been given under Original Act.

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.