The Coffee Break Guide to Compliance – Vol. 2
In India, the interests of women in the workforce are safeguarded through various labour legislations. Women are engaged in all industries, in day as well as night shifts, and many states have brought in additional amendments to protect women employees’ dignity, honour and safety while in the workplace. One of these is the amended provisions, to be provided by the Employer, for women employees to perform their jobs during night hours.
This post is part of the Coffee Break Guide to Compliance by Anandan Subramaniam. Please subscribe to the blog updates if you’d like to be notified of these posts. As always, your questions are welcome: please comment below with your doubts and queries.
The Coffee Break Guide to Compliance – Vol. 2 (Responsibilities of an Employer in Engaging Women Employees in Commercial Establishments in India)
Here is an overview of the inclusive responsibilities of the Employer, as per the recent amendments, in engaging women employees during night shifts in various states of India. (These are the responsibilities pertaining to Commercial Establishments. We will cover Factories in a subsequent post.)
- In Tamil Nadu and Telangana, there are notifications from the state governments that the Employer needs to make transport arrangements if the women employees are engaged in night shifts.
- Similarly, in Haryana, which follows the Punjab Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, the Government allows women employees working in night shift, on certain conditions.
- In Uttar Pradesh, the Employer needs to get an exemption after filing an affidavit with the local Inspector, accepting the conditions laid by the Labour Department. The women employee shall then work with her consent.
- In a first of its kind, the recent Maharashtra Shops and Establishment Rules – 2018 has an exhaustive provision laying the conditions for employing women in general, as well as in night shifts. The Government of Karnataka has also notified separately in detail the conditions for engaging women in night shifts.
- In Maharashtra, the Employer shall submit an undertaking annually for providing all facilities to take care of the safety, dignity and honour of women employees. Women employees are allowed to work only after obtaining their consent through Form L. Such women employees are eligible for one additional paid holiday for every two months in a year.
- In Karnataka, the Employer has to obtain prior permission from the competent authority (Rule 24-B1 and B2) and is also requested to appoint a Women’s Safety Officer to oversee transport and security arrangements of women employees.
- In West Bengal, the Employer needs to submit an undertaking and obtain exemption under the provisions of Section 5 (10) and Section 10 (b) of the WB Shops and Establishments Act, 1963.
Karnataka and Maharashtra have conditions that can be considered as best practices for other states to follow. A consolidated overview of the general conditions for Karnataka and Maharashtra is below:
- Cab facility is to be provided for pick-up from residence and drop.
- No woman employee shall be picked-up first or dropped last. If this is unavoidable, an escort/security guard must accompany the employee in the cab.
- If it is an escorted trip, women employees have to sign-off upon safe arrival at destination.
- Women employees should not sit in the front seat.
- Regular random breath checks of the driver/escort are to be done, to avoid instances of drunk driving.
- The company shall have a control room to oversee the transport facilities.
- Telephone number and address of women employees shall not be disclosed to unauthorised persons.
- Sufficient restrooms, washing facilities, water supply shall be provided separately for women employees.
- Work place and other areas to be well-illuminated.
- There shall be not less than 12 consecutive hours’ gap between shifts whenever a woman worker is changed from one shift to another.
- Employees can be engaged on rotation basis only.
- Employer shall obtain bio-data of each driver and conduct pre-employment antecedent verification.
- Employer shall, on its own or through the agency employing the personnel, conduct pre-employment antecedent verification of security personnel/escort.
Night Shift during Maternity Period
- In Maharashtra, pregnant women shall not perform night shift for a period of 24 weeks before and after childbirth, of which at least 12 weeks shall be before the expected child birth.
- In Karnataka, special care has to be taken in terms of routing and occupancy of pregnant women.
- Provision of crèche on non-chargeable basis.
In the next post, we will cover Responsibilities of an Employer in Engaging Women Employees in Factories in India. Please subscribe to the blog updates if you’d like to be notified of these posts. As always, your questions are welcome: please comment below with your doubts and queries.