The Centre is working on a social security scheme that would provide pension, insurance against disability and death, maternity coverage, as well as medical and unemployment coverage to all workers. This will include those in the informal labour sector who are not covered by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation and the Employees’ State Insurance, The Indian Express reported.

The Narendra Modi government is consulting states on whether they would finance a part of the scheme. If the talks are successful, it may be launched later in 2018.

“At present, in both EPFO and ESIC, the employer contributes and an equal amount is contributed by the employee,” the daily quoted an unidentified official of the Ministry of Labour and Employment as saying. “If you are covering the entire population, there will be one segment that will not be able to contribute at all. Now, for the segment below the poverty line, the government plans to foot the entire bill, in which case it has to be shared between the states and the Centre.”

The official said the government was now working to arrive at an upfront cost for the scheme. It could be funded using the money allocated for a number of existing schemes.

“So many things are being implemented by different ministries, by different states,” the official said. “A pool of money is available already but we need to work out how much extra is required. “Whether it is too big, in which case whether the government will be able to foot that bill, whether it can be managed within the available resources. So these are the things that require a lot of work.”

After coming to power in 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government had announced that it will consolidate 44 labour laws into four codes – industrial relations, wages, social security, and occupational safety, health and working conditions.

So far, it has been able to introduce only the Code on Wages Bill in Lok Sabha, which was tabled in August 2017, as its proposals were vociferously opposed. The code, which calls for a national minimum wage, combines provisions of four labour laws – The Minimum Wages Act of 1948, The Payment of Wages Act of 1936, The Payment of Bonus Act of 1965, and The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976.

Labour Secretary M Sathiyavathy had said in December 2017 that the ministry intended to push all four codes for passage in Parliament in 2018, reported PTI. “The government is not going slow on labour reforms,” she had said. “All four codes will be pushed in 2018.”