Karnataka To Scrap Night Shifts For Women?

gender inequality in the workplace feature

​Amidst the twists and turns women already face at workplaces, here comes another challenge — and we are not happy about it! The Karnataka legislature panel’s new proposal to IT and Bio-technology companies in Bengaluru is that women should not be made to do night shifts in order to ensure their safety and security.

The report was submitted in the legislature assembly on Monday. According to it, if female employees, who are working in IT and BT companies, accept the plan to shift their time slot from night to morning or afternoon, there would be a major change in the city’s safety scenario and that the government could prevent many crimes from happening.

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The N A Haris-led legislature committee of women and child welfare advocates the proposal, urging that women employees in these companies be immediately shifted in the morning or afternoon shifts in order to take precautions before any sexual crimes take place. The report asks men to work more in night shifts.

Quoting from TOI, the report claims, “On September 9, 2016, the committee had visited Infosys and Biocon and interacted with the management, employees and other stakeholders and based on their feedback, it made these recommendations.”

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To enable gender equality among the workplaces, last year the state government had decided to provide freedom, of any kind, to women employees on whether they want to work night or day shifts in all sectors.  Before that step, women were only placed in night shifts for IT and ITES sectors. Various industry bodies had given their nod at that time.

But the new proposal was initiated after seeing an increase in sexual crimes within the companies.

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This brings us to another amendment, the Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1961 and the Factories Act 1948, in which the government has again proposed to enable provisions for women to work in night shifts and also ensure their safety and security.

The committee is also digging deep in the cases of rape and murder of women and children and scrutinizing the existing laws to bring justice. “In the absence of stringent laws, many accused are able to go scot-free or get less quantum of punishment,” the report said, while calling for more stringent action against doctors / hospitals encouraging female foeticide.

READ: Karnataka IT Minister Announces Rs 10 Cr Fund For Women Entrepreneurs

The other add-ons to the recommendations are:

  • Women employees working in factories should avail of special bus service.
  • Toll-free helpline number linking police and ambulance for women, children and senior citizens should be alerted.
  • The Pink Police and Pink police app that is now limited to Bengaluru should be extended to the state.

The flaws:

  • While we believe that the motive is plain and simple, but applying this formula could largely harm women’s participation in the firms, especially while hiring female employees in the team. The loophole in this case is that most of the companies would prefer men while hiring, thinking of the productivity they could offer, regardless of any preferable timing.
  • The proposal limits the benefits to a woman who decides to opt for multiple jobs.
  • It also ignores the value of women in any organisation/sector. This could lead to hugely exploitative work conditions. The moment a woman is chosen to be put in a particular time slot, she would be seen as a liability. Why would companies hire women for a particular routine when they have the chance to enlarge the team with men only who would work in any given slot?
  • When an organisation decides to hire people and has a choice between male and female candidates, chances are that men would be preferred because any company would want to increase productivity.

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