Cinemas, shops, banks may soon work 24/7

The law will not apply to government offices and the Reserve Bank of India. File photo   | Photo Credit: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

The government has framed a new model law that will allow cinema halls, restaurants, shops, banks and other such workplaces to be open 24/7. The law will also enable women to work during the night in such offices with mandatory cab services and other workplace facilities for them.

The government has sent a draft Cabinet note on Model Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Act, 2015 for inviting comments from various Ministries and government departments. This will act as an advisory to the State governments which will have the option to either adopt this model law or make changes to it according to local needs.

“All shops and establishments not covered under the Factories Act, such as malls, cinema halls or an information technology firm, may be open 24X7 and allowed to work 365 days in a year. We will issue an advisory to the States, which will not require approval from Parliament, and it is up to them to take it up or make changes,” Union Labour Secretary Shankar Aggarwal told The Hindu.

He, however, said the shops and establishments would need to take permission from local bodies related to other laws. “We have protected the workers’ rights while framing this law. It will also give boost to the revenues of the services sector which can open all day long now,” Mr. Aggarwal added.

The draft law proposes to cover all premises, barring factories, or shops with work related to printing, banking, insurance, stocks and shares, brokerage or theatres, cinema and “any other public amusement” which is currently not covered under the Factories Act 1948. All such units which employ 10 or more workers are proposed to come under this Act, said a draft Cabinet note reviewed by The Hindu.

At present, States have their own rules related to shops and establishments which cover physical shops or workplaces regardless of the size of the unit. The law lays down statutory obligations and rights of employers and employees.

For the first time, godowns, warehouses or workplace related to packaging activities are proposed to be covered under the law. This will bring many e-commerce companies under the labour law rulebooks as many of these companies face problems while operating godowns in various States.

“This is a very encouraging move in terms of the ease of doing business, also keeping in mind that workers’ interests are protected. In the current scenario, many establishments, especially the e-commerce industry, want to operate 365 days throughout the day. The entire process of seeking approvals at present is very complex. It will give a big relief to such industries and help the logistics sector even more,” said Rituparna Chakraborty, president of the Indian Staffing Federation.

The law will not apply to government offices and the Reserve Bank of India.

The draft model law has laid down several provisions for workers in such establishments. It said women would be permitted to work during night shift and there would be “no discrimination against women in the matter of recruitment, training, transfer or promotion.” Facilities such as cab services, night crèches and ladies toilet should be compulsorily provided by employers in case women are working on the night shift.

A worker will get 12 days mandatory casual-cum-sick leave throughout the year. This apart, five paid holidays for festivals will be a must, according to another proposal. A worker can work nine hours a day with a mandatory break of 30 minutes. Instead of factory inspectors, there will be facilitators who will provide information and advice to employers and workers related to the law and inspect the establishment.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 12:01:29 PM |

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