In a development that could create more employment opportunities and improve working conditions for women in factories and other sectors in Maharashtra, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday gave his assent to a legislation that amends the Factories Act, 1948, allowing women to work night shifts from 7 pm to 6 am.
“This is a big decision and will help in creating more employment opportunities for women by allowing them to work in the night shift. The onus of providing adequate security for women will rest with the employer,” Maharashtra Industries Minister Subhash Desai told The Hindu.
Mr. Desai added that “The decision has wider implications. This will help improve work conditions for women and provide them more benefits in sectors like Information and Technology, Hospitality, Health and other industries where employment opportunities exist for women.” He said the percentage of educated women is increasing, and there is need for more employment opportunities for them.
In July this year, the Maharashtra Assembly had passed the amendment to Section 66 of the Factories Act which prevented women from working in night shifts. The Bill was sent to the President for his nod. With the amended legislation, Maharashtra will join other States like Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh who are making efforts to allow women to work in night shifts.
The amended Bill will also prevent inspectors from filing cases on petty matters against factories, thereby helping curb corruption and harassment from factory inspectors. If a factory inspector has to file a case, he needs to take permission from the chief factory inspector.
The Bill will also allow establishments with up to 20 employees under the purview of the amended Factories Act and allow them to maximise production by employing women in the night shifts. The Bill also allows employees to get paid leave after working for 90 days instead of the earlier 240 days or more. The overtime limit will also be increased from 75 hours to 115 hours without management’s permission.