Women’s safety is probably the biggest concern for us today, keeping in view the ever increasing rape culture. Many of us try not to go out at night only because we do not have to face any such thing. But what if you’re a working woman and your employer asks you to stay till late night? If you think there’s nothing you can do regarding this, then you might be wrong. A bill which is likely to be introduced in the on-going session of the parliament says that the “Security and Dignity” of a woman worker is paramount.

As per the bill, 6am to 7pm is the time when the employer can ask a woman to work, i.e., working hours for the women can be only between 6 am to 7 pm. If the employer asks the woman to work beyond these hours, he has to ensure her safety. Moreover, also on a holiday, the employer cannot ask the woman to work. However, if there’s urgency, even then the safety of the woman has to be ensured by the employer.

“It is fine that the security is now the responsibility of an employer. But we also need to work on the fact the women are not secure at night. Till when is someone going to protect us? We should be free to walk on roads no matter what the time.”

Richa Singh, an employee at Big Bazaar, says, “This is perfect. It will ensure the safety of women. Till seven, it is safe enough for us to move out. However, as it gets late, it becomes dangerous for a girl, considering the present scenario. If our safety becomes the responsibility of the employer, our safety is best ensured.”

There’s another inclusion in the bill, which defines the family of a worker under law. The family now also constitutes dependent grandparents. This means that the benefits that the parents are liable to enjoy will also be given to the dependent grandparents. According to The Hans India, the Bill, Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions 2019, cleared by the Cabinet is being examined by the Law Ministry and would soon be introduced in Parliament.

Akanksha Srivastava, Assistant Professor at Rama University Kanpur, says, “It is fine that the security is now the responsibility of an employer. But we also need to work on the fact the women are not secure at night. Till when is someone going to protect us? We should be free to walk on roads no matter what the time is.”

Now taking the consent of the worker regarding working hours is also included in the bill. Last week, a Group of Ministers headed by Home Minister Amit Shah suggested adding certain points in the Bill, including “taking the consent of the worker with respect to overtime hours.” Also for the benefit of both the employer and the worker, the overtime hours will be enhanced to 125 hours which were previously enhanced to 100 hours.

Other welfare facilities like crèche for children, canteen for quality food, first aid facilities in case of any mishap and provision of a welfare officer are also included in the list.

Other welfare facilities like crèche for children, canteen for quality food, first aid facilities in case of any mishap and provision of a welfare officer are also included in the list. These are given prime importance in the bill. These welfare facilities will have to be taken care of by every organisation, as far as practically feasible. Like the wage bill, the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Bill subsume relevant provisions of at least 13 existing Central Labour Laws.

“We have tried to make laws easier and better for the worker. We have also tried to ensure a balance between rights of the workers and the employers. The government has given top priority to the safety of women. For working journalists, including those working in the electronic media, better wages and working conditions have been assured,” said a top official of the Labour and Employment Ministry.

Other facilities like free annual health check-up for the workers and providing an appointment letter to every working employee, are also included in the bill. These changes have been made after consultations with central trade unions, employers’ associations and state governments.

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