• The Kerala Headload Workers (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 was promulgated on February 9, 2021.  It repeals the Kerala Headload Workers (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, which expired on February 11, 2021. The 2021 Ordinance extends the provisions of the 2020 Ordinance. 
  • The 2021 Ordinance amends the Kerala Headload Workers Act, 1978 which regulates the employment and welfare of headload workers in Kerala.  The 2021 Ordinance amends the limitations of employment on headload workers, particularly women and adolescent workers.
  • Limitations of EmploymentThe Act defines a headload worker as a person engaged solely for the purpose of loading or unloading or carrying (on head or person) articles to or from a vehicle or any place in an establishment.  The person may be engaged for wages, directly or through a contractor or by the establishment.  The Act specifies that the maximum weight of articles a headload worker may carry, at a time, is 75 kilogram.  The 2021 Ordinance reduces this maximum limit to 55 kilogram.  It also prescribes the maximum weight limit to be carried by a woman or an adolescent headload worker to be 35 kilogram.
  • Power to make rulesThe Act empowers the state government to notify rules under the Act.  These include rules to provide for: (i) the obligations of headload workers and employers, and (ii) regulating the employment of unregistered headload workers by any employer.  The 2021 Ordinance empowers the government to notify rules retrospectively or prospectively. 
  • It also adds that the government may notify rules on matters related to the terms and conditions of service of officers and employees of the Kerala Head Load Workers Welfare Board (including their retirement benefits).  The Board formulates and governs welfare schemes for headload workers in the state and also handles regular administrative issues in the loading sector.


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