Women allowed to work night shifts in factories in Karnataka

Representational image   | Photo Credit: V. Ganesan

The Government of Karnataka on Wednesday issued an order making way for women to work during night shifts in factories, subject to certain security conditions.

The order issued by the government says that women can work during night shifts (between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.) in places registered under the Factories Act, 1948. The move comes after the Madras High Court had struck down one of the provisions of the Act which had banned women from doing night shift after terming it “unconstitutional”.

While IT/ITEs workers were exempted from this, this order gives blanket permission to employ women 24/7 in all industries. The notification, however, states that the night shift cannot be compulsory for any women worker and written consent needs to be obtained for women workers who are interested in working night shifts.

Security issue

It also places the onus on the employer to ensure that the workplaces prevent acts of sexual harassment and provides the procedures for resolution statement, or prosecutions of acts of sexual harassment by taking all the necessary steps.

Other guidelines
  • Separate canteen facility should be provided for female employees
  • Appropriate medical facilities in case of emergency and telephone connection if there are more than 100 workers in each shift
  • If a factory provides boarding and lodging arrangements for women workers, the same shall be kept exclusively for women under the control of women wards
  • There needs to be at least 12 consecutive hours of rest between the last shift and the night shift
  • Female workers should have a monthly meeting with a representative of their employer once in eight weeks and present their grievances
  • Employer should sent a fortnightly report to inspector of factories about the details of employees engaged during night shift and send report whenever their is an untoward incident to the local police station and inspector of factories.
  • Sufficient number of rest rooms shall be provided to female workers

Besides this, the notification also says that the factories should have proper lighting and CCTV cameras not only within the factory but also in the surrounding areas; separate canteen facilities for women employees and women security personnel at the entry and exit points. It mandates that women workers are employed in a batch of not less than 10 and the total women workers should not be less than 2/3rd the total strength. During night shift, at least 1/3 of the supervisory staff should be women.

The notification also states that the factory managements should frame rules to prohibit sexual harassment and provide for appropriate penalties in such rules against the offenders and also introduce an amendment wherever necessary. The order mandates that the employers ensure appropriate working conditions in respect to work, leisure, health and hygiene to further ensure that there is no hostile environment towards women at workplaces and no woman employee should have reasonable grounds to believe that she is disadvantaged in connection with her employment.

Labour unions, however, are seeing the new notification with scepticism. Maitreyi Krishnan, State committee member, All India Central Council of Trade Unions, said this could be used as another weapon by the management to exploit women workers. “Night shifts have a detrimental effect on health for everyone and there is a need to question if it is really required,” she said.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 12:14:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/women-allowed-to-work-in-night-shifts-in-all-factories-in-karnataka/article30028455.ece

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