Contract Labour in India: In Law and Public Policy

With Comparative Insights from China
  • Pankaj KumarEmail author
  • Jaivir Singh


This chapter identifies and describes the various laws and statutes associated with the regulation of contract labour in India. This includes not only the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 but also a plethora of other laws including those covering social security such as the Maternity Act 1963. While doing so, we simultaneously perform a Hohfeldian analysis of these laws exposing the fact that (barring a few cases) most of the laws are badly structured with ill-defined rights, duties, powers and immunities—creating Hohfeldian molecules of rights that are of low valence. We go on to show that judicial interpretation of labour laws as well as the orientation of public policy also reflects a steady erosion of rights of contract workers. The chapter concludes by contrasting the Indian laws with those prevailing in China, particularly post 2008, where workers have been granted more structured rights than is the case in India.


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Important Acts & Statutes; For India

  1. The Indian Contract Act, 1872, available at URL,%201872.pdf.
  2. The Contract labour (Regulations & Abolition) Act, 1970, available at URL
  3. The Contract labour (Regulations & Abolition) Rules, 1971, available at
  4. The Employee’s (Workmen’s) Compensation Act, available at URL
  5. The Employees’ State Insurance Act, available at URL
  6. The Factories Act, 1948, available at URL
  7. Minimum Wages Act, 1948, available at URL, available at URL.
  8. Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, available at URL
  9. The Employees Provident Funds Act, 1952, available at URL

For China

  1. Chinese Labour promotion law, 2008, available at URL
  2. Xu, F. (2014). Temporary work in China: precarity in an emerging labour market. In J. Fudge, & K. Strauss (Eds.), Temporary Work, Agencies and Unfree Labourr-Insecurity in the new world of work, Routledge, New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ICAR-IVRI (under DARE, Government of India)BareillyIndia
  2. 2.Centre for the study of Law and GovernanceJawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia

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