nisa-logo-transparent17 January 2017, New Delhi: India’s largest congregation of budget private schools, National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA), strongly criticized the recent move by Ministry of Labour and Employment of amending Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) Act of 1950 for its recent amendment to include private educational institutions under its ambit. The recent move pressing schools to subscribe to the Scheme to Promote Registration of Employees/ Employers (SPREE) has brought the schools in a flux to increase their fees in order to adhere to the government’s stringent norms and pay up the aggregated arrears.

Stating his views on the ESIC amendment, Mr Kulbhushan Sharma, President, NISA said, “The ESI Act, since its inception, was provisioned for labours working in hazardous industries. The recent announcement considers teachers as labours and makes it mandatory for the schools. There is no logical reason that schools and teachers be included in this provision as we are not engaging in any hazardous activities that we would require ESI protection. These social welfare legislations are meant to ensure better standard of health and welfare of employees but the heavy penalties being charged are an enormous burden on the already cash strapped budget private schools. The schools are in no position to pay the arrears retrospectively.”

Commenting on the ESIC matter, Mr Krishna Reddy, Telangana State President, NISA said, “This amendment has been passed by the Central government without wide consultation with us and now we have no option but to adhere to the order.  ESIC order is being calculated and penalty is levied since 2008, we are forced to pay charges for the past 8 years while we did not avail the services. We demand the government authorities to not to bring the act in force with retrospective date and not to intimidate us to pay the arrears of past 8 years. And if the government still relents with its order, we will have no alternative but to increase the fees in our schools which will adversely affect the poor parents. NISA representatives have undertaken several meetings with the Labour and Employment Minister, Bandaru Dattatreya regarding this issue in the past but with no solution has been worked out till date.”

NISA strongly demands to the ESIC that the budget private schools enrolled in this scheme before 2016 should be exempted from paying the aggregated arrears and the new schools enrolling from present year be making payments from this progressive date.

Highlighting the practical challenges, Mr Amit Chandra, Policy Advisor, NISA said, “ESIC does not have adequate number of hospitals in its network and adequate facilities to cater to the need. Bearing these facts in mind, the government should give a choice to the employees to choose a healthcare option including the health insurance scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and it should not come as a forced decision like ESIC. If further forced to comply with the ESI Act, it would lead to increase in school fees and an added burden to parents.”

About The National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA): The National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA) is a platform that brings together affordable private schools (APS) from across the country to give them a unified voice to address their concerns about regulatory challenges and to facilitate quality improvement in schools. As of today, NISA represents 55,000 schools from 23 state associations which cater to the needs of 22 million children at an average of 400 children per school.