Law to guarantee service conditions for employees
The Kerala Assembly on Thursday passed the landmark Kerala Self-Financing College Teaching and Non-Teaching Employees (Appointment and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2021, that puts in place a law to guarantee service conditions for employees in private colleges.
The Act will also pave way for them to enjoy benefits, including salary, allowance, insurance and leave that are on par with the Government and aided sector.
The Bill, which had been piloted by Higher Education Minister R. Bindu on October 11 and subsequently referred to the Subject Committee on Education, was unanimously passed by the State legislature.
The legislation, which had been recommended by the Kerala State Higher Education Council, is being viewed as one that would standardise rules to ensure service conditions for those employed in the unaided sector. Employees and educational agencies will be required to enter into agreements that specify conditions, including post, scale of pay, increment, grade, promotion, period of appointment, salary allowance and overtime duty. The age limit for appointments and retirements will be in accordance with norms laid down by regulatory bodies.
Besides, unqualified employees will be required to meet eligibility norms laid down by the University Grants Commission and other regulatory bodies within a stipulated time-frame. Employees will also be able to appeal against disciplinary actions taken by private college managements before the respective universities.
Devaswom Minister K. Radhakrishnan, who moved the motion to pass the Bill in the absence of Dr. Bindu, sought to allay concerns that the law would impede the rights of minority organisations. While the Government did not intend to usurp freedom, it aimed at creating an environment that was conducive to teaching and learning in unaided colleges.
Exploitation of staff
The Government was bound by the law and the judgements passed by the Supreme Court to intervene wherever necessary to uphold academic quality and prevent practices that could pave way for an unhealthy learning environment. There have been numerous instances of employees being subjected to exploitation in the absence of regulations that guaranteed their welfare, he said.
Former Higher Education Minister K.T. Jaleel, who pointed out that the law would be applicable for all institutions under the Higher Education Department, urged Health Minister Veena George to introduce a similar law for the nearly 500 private colleges affiliated to the Kerala University of Health Sciences.
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