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Karnataka Passes Bill Permitting Women To Work Night Shift At Factories

Karnataka Passes Bill Permitting Women To Work Night Shift At Factories

The Karnataka Legislative Assembly, on February 22, passed a Bill amending the Factories Act. As per the new amendment, women would be allowed to work night shifts at the factories, and employees who put in 12 hours a day for four consecutive days are entitled to take off for three days a week.

The Karnataka Amendment was passed in the assembly without any debate and would bring a new change within the factory functioning. Earlier in 2020, the Government permitted women to work night shifts at hotels, restaurants, cafes, theatres, and other similar establishments. With the factory amendment, night shifts for women would look into a larger scope of regulated work hours.

During the pandemic, the State issued an order that women could work night shifts (between 7 pm and 6 am) at factories registered under the Factories Act 1948. The order also conveyed that factories would need to take written consent from the women employees willing to work night shifts. As per this order, women were allowed to work round-the-clock, but now the Government has enabled them the choice by passing it as a law. The Karnataka Assembly passed the Factories (Karnataka Amendment) Bill 2023, which would now permit women to work even night shifts at factories.

Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister JC Madhuswamy was quoted saying, “there were limitations on work hours for women, and there was pressure on the government, including from the software industry, to relax this.” With the Factories Act amendment, the State is now moving in line with the High Court’s direction that equal opportunities must be provided to all under Article 14 of the Constitution. It is now set to go to the Legislative Council for further passage.

The Bill further allows the State to increase daily work hours from nine to twelve and not exceed 48 hours a week. The choice of extended working hours could activate more economic activities and employment opportunities. The Government further proposed permitting the State to prescribe the working hours, above which wages at the rate of twice the usual are payable to workers in respect of overtime work.

According to The New Indian Express report, no employee should have reasonable grounds to believe that they are disadvantaged in connection with their employment. Elaborating on the amendment for women, the Bill states that it is subject to a list of safety measures that are required to be put in place by employers.

The employers would have to look into provisions such as transport facilities for women workers from their residences to the factory during night shifts. These vehicles should also come equipped with necessary CCTV and GPS features. The Bill stresses that the prevention of harassment and protection of employee rights falls under the duty of the employer or other responsible authorities at the workplace.

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