On Wednesday Karnataka government released a notification stating that women can work during night shifts provided certain security requirements are fulfilled by the employers and the industries. This notification has been issued after Madras High Court scrapped the provision of the Factory Act 1948 that banned women from working during the night shifts, terming it ‘unconstitutional’.

However, the allowance for the women to work in night shift comes with the necessary security conditions that the factories and the employers should meet.

Key Takeaways:

  • Karnataka Government issued notification allowing women employees in factories to work during night shifts also.
  • However, the new amendment comes with important conditions that the factories and the employers need to fulfil.
  • The factories under The Factory Act 1948 can only have women employees working during night shifts. The IT/ITEs are exempted.
  • The employers should prevent sexual harassment in the factories and use stringent rules and penalties against any such acts.
  • The night shift of the women employee should be confirmed with her in a written consent. The night shifts should be between 7 pm and 6 am.
  • The factories should have CCTV cameras, separate canteens for women, security personnel at exit and entry gates and other women-friendly working conditions.  

Conditions important for employing women for night shifts

According to the notification, firstly, women working in the factories registered in the Factory Act 1948 can only be allowed to work during their night shifts. The women working in the IT/ITE are not included in this amendment.

The night shift of the women employee should be confirmed with her before finalising it. It should involve her written consent so that women who are not interested in night shifts are not forced to do it. The night shift should be between 7 pm and 6 am.

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Important Security Measures

To ensure the safety of women during night shifts, the notification deems it necessary for all the factories should have stringent provisions in their policies against sexual harassment. It should prevent sexual harassment acts in the workplace and have strict penalties and rules against any sexual harassment cases.

Further, the notification states that all the factories should have CCTV cameras installed inside and in the areas surrounding the factory. There should be separate canteens for women employees and all exit and entry gates should have security personnel appointed to prevent chaos and ensure their safety.

Moreover, it mandates that women employees should be employed in the batch of at least ten women and the total women workers in the factory should not be less than two-thirds of the total employees in the factory. During the night shift of women, at least one-third of the supervising staff should be women.

The employers should provide proper working conditions for work, leisure, health and hygiene so that women employees do not feel disadvantaged at the workplace. The environment of the workplace should not hostile to women employees and ensure co-operation and safety.

The notification viewed with scepticism

The Labour Union is sceptic towards the new notification in the policies of women workers. Maitreyi Krishnan, State committee member, All India Central Council of Trade Unions, told The Hindu, “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.”

Picture Credit: The Economist

Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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