Classification of jobs into skilled, semiskilled and unskilled categories is dependent upon many factors like the nature of jobs, required academic or technical qualifications, essential experience in a particular trade or specific work etc. To my knowledge there are no legal definitions so far. Even though the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 [ sec.2(s) ] and the Minimum Wages Act 1948 [ sec.2(j) ] use some of these terms in their definition clauses of the common terms " workman" and " employee " respectively, no explanations or further precise definitions are found therein. The Industrial Employment ( Standing Orders ) Act also simply adopts the definition of " workman " in the ID Act,1947 by reference. The Factories Act,1948 an exclusive labour legislation dealing with conditions of service, inter alia, in premises where any manufacturing activity is carried on simply defines (sec.2(l) ) a worker as any person engaged directly or indirectly in the manufacturing process or any other incidental activity connected therewith in the premises. So, the sources of information about these classifications have to be searched elsewhere.
While fixing and revising minimum rates of wages under the MW Act,1948 relating to certain employments in manufacturing industries, the Governments are in the practice of adding explanatory notes to their notifications about the terms skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled used in the G.Os. Here the emphasis is on the persons engaged in the respective employments.
Persons having an experience of 5 years in a particular trade or persons who possess trade certificate including ITI with an experience of 3 years are SKILLED EMPLOYEES.
All trade certificate holders without any experience and persons having an experience of not less than 2 years in any trade as helpers are SEMI-SKILLED.
Persons doing works which do not require any academic qualification or technical training are UNSKILLED EMPLOYEES.
Viewed from yet another perspective with reference to the jobs, we can define them as follows:
It is any work involving the use of judgement such as intellectual reasoning and problem solving skills to make decisions based on measurements, calculations or estimations and require specific qualifications such as educational degrees or professional training. Ex: Nurses, Teachers, Administrative Assts, Accountants, Office Clerks etc.
Any work of simple and repetitive nature involving attention to details or protecting against risks without any advanced training or education. Ex: Security Guards ( without arms and training in weaponry), Waiter, Retail Salesman etc.
Any work involving simple tasks performed mostly through physical strength or co ordination with least or no exercise of judgement. Ex: Cleaner, Messenger etc.