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Post at: Aug 05 2021

Draft ‘Emigration Bill-2021’

Why in News

  • In June, 2021 the ministry of External Affairs invited public inputs to the Emigration bill, 2021.
  • The Bill present a long overdue opportunity to reform the recruitment process for nationals seeking employment opportunity in abroad.

Key features of Bill

  • The Emigration Bill 2019 is an improvement over the Emigration Act, 1983.
  • This Act may be called the Emigration Act, 2021.
  • The Bill envisages a regulatory mechanism governing abroad employment of Indian nationals, emigration management and establish a framework for protection and promotion of welfare of emigrants.
  • The Bill proposes a three-tier institutional framework.

(a) Central Emigration Management authority, a new emigration policy division in ministry of External Affairs.
(b) A Bureau of Emigration policy and planning and a Bureau of Emigration Administration to handle day to day operational matters and oversee the welfare of emigrants.
(c) A chief Emigration Officers to ensure welfare and protection of Emigrants.

  • The Bill’s most clear inclusion is that it permits government authorities to punish workers by cancelling or suspending their passports and imposing fines up to or suspending their passports and imposing fines up to Rs. 50000 for violating any provision of Bills.

Significance of Bill

  • It increases the accountability of brokers and other intermediaries who are involved in labour hiring.
  • Exploitative behavior of middlemen and recruitment agencies towards emigrants could be curtailed by this Act.

Why does India need the Emigration Bill?


  • Serious exploitative practices underlined by an independent investigations into migrant worker conditions like
    • Large recruitment changes
    • Contract substitution
    • Deception
    • Retention of passports
    • Non-payment or underpayment wages
    • Poor living conditions
    • Discriminations and other forms of ill-treatment.

  • Labour migration is governed by Emigration Act-1983 which sets up a mechanism for hiring through government-certified recruiting agent-individuals or public or private agencies.
  • It outlines obligations for agents to conduct due diligence of prospective employers, set up a cap on service fees, and establishes a government review of worker travel and employment documents (Known as Emigration clearances).

Issues related to Emigration Bill-2021

  • Lack of Human Rights Framework – The Bill lacks a human right framework aimed at security rights of migrants and their families.
  • Not as per standard of ILO – The Bill permit manpower agencies to charge worker’s service fees and ever allows agents to set their own limits.
  • As per ILO convention 181, it is employers, not workers who should bear recruitment payment including costs of their visas, air travel, and medical exams.

Gender Dimension

  • This Bill does not also adequately reflect the gender dimensions of labour migration where women have limited agency in recruitment compared to their counterparts.
  • The Bill has no provision to deal with sexual abuse, physical and psychological distress of labour.

No space for 3rd Sector

  • The Bill also provides limited space for worker representation or civil society engagement in policy.

Way Forward

  • Needs to formulate migration centric policies including migrants representations and civil society enagement.
  • Needs a gender sensitive policy with inclusion of a committees dealing issues like sexual harassment at workplace and concerning all the physical and Psychological abuse.
  • Recognizes the contribution of Indian workers, upholding the dignity and human rights of migrants and their families.
  • Bill should be as per standard of ILO’s guidelines for E.g. - Employer will pay change of the air travel, Visa medical exams as ILO convention – 181.
  • The new Bill through better than the Emigration Act, 1983, more reforms are needed to protect Indian workers.

Rahul Yadav


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